Matilda Jr

Date 11th February 2024
Society The Stage & Screen Academy
Venue Flixton Girls School
Type of Production Musical

Report

Author: Kevin Proctor

As someone who has cherished this Roald Dahl novel along with the 1990s film adaptation, Matilda continues to hold a nostalgic charm that I am always eager to rediscover and savour. It wasn’t until in my adult years that the musical adaptation was spawned, I’m sure if I’d have been younger when this happened I would have a far deeper affection to it. Saying that, ‘When I Grow Up’ and ‘Revolting Children’ are perhaps two of the greatest youth ensemble numbers ever penned, they’re wonderful! As ever, and with this being my debut visit to the Stage & Screen Academy, I eagerly anticipated this community youth theatre production. What unfolded on stage exceeded expectations, delivering a delightful blend of charm, talent and heart.

 

At the pivot of the performance was – naturally – the titular character, portrayed with remarkable promise and professionalism displaying triumphant moments of courage and resilience, capturing the desired essence of Matilda with astonishing depth and authenticity. Her performance drew me into Matilda's world with every word, every gesture feeling entirely at ease in her well-crafted and delivered portrayal which left a fixed impression which remained with me long after the final bows, really excellent!  

 

This production – rightly so – featured a cast of stellar numbers who brought the story to vibrant life. From the mischievous antics of the revolting magots (aka children) to the larger-than-life characters of Miss Trunchbull, Miss Honey and the Wormwood family, each performer embraced their respective role with gusto and commitment. The chemistry among the cast was palpable which leads me perfectly into the presentation of one of the afore mentioned ensemble numbers which occupied a brief hiccup when the timing from the ensemble cast momentarily became out of sync with the track. Yet, what truly impressed me was how seamlessly the cast rallied together (discreetly), entirely unfazed by the hiccup, and managed to realign themselves in complete unison. This was a testament to their professionalism, demonstrating their ability to adapt and overcome with grace and precision. If anyone in the audience was unaware of the song's intricacies, they probably wouldn’t have even noticed there’d been any hiccup to overcome. A true testament to the cohesive bond shared by the cast, it was one of those moments when I feared it would all come crashing down when in fact the opposite occurred and highlighted the strength and unity of the company, showcasing their ability to navigate challenges. Terrific!

 

The set was a charming and simple home craft/DIY design which did the job to transport the audience into the whimsical world of Matilda, the video wall was a smart choice as this helped ensure scene changes were swift and eye catching. I think it’s fair to say that unless the viewers were familiar with the national theatre’s production, they probably wouldn’t have grasped that they were supposed to be swings, perhaps considering a different approach to staging this part, one that avoids the swings altogether, would have been a more thoughtful option as I’m not convinced that the intended result was clear. However, this was only one small element amongst many so nothing to dwell on too much as the visual storytelling that enhanced the magic and wonder of the production – when looking at the bigger picture – shone through for the most part which is to be congratulated.

 

There was definitely a labour of love shared by a group of individuals and their passion for the show was unquestionably united, led by the academy’s principal who informed us in the programme and during the speeches which followed the production that ‘Matilda’ is her favourite show. From the dedicated crew and chaperones working tirelessly behind the scenes to the enthusiastic tune of the leader the audience was welcomed with warm smiles, everyone involved played a vital role in bringing this theatrical experience to fruition.

 

In conclusion, we witnessed a showcase of some fine talent in a presentation which captured the magic and mischief of Roald Dahl's beloved tale with charm. The cast remained steadfast and unified at all times, delivering performances that were as encouraging as they were entertaining. It was a reminder of the joy that comes from working together as a community to create something memorable. This was certainly a lovely afternoon at this production of Matilda Jr.