Matilda Junior

Date 22nd April 2022
Society Teesdale Operatic Society
Venue Barnard Castle School
Type of Production Musical
Director Dawn Trevor
Musical Director Richard Dawson
Choreographer Scott Edwards


Author: Helen Abraham

I was thrilled to be asked to return to Teesdale Operatic Society to put together a report for their very first Youth production, Matilda Junior.  Their very first show following incorporation was Joseph which was absolutely stunning.  Knowing they had produced Matilda in a short time period and it being a technically difficult show I was very much looking forward to it.  Teesdale are a wonderfully warm welcoming group from the second you walk in the door so they are lovely to visit.

The set was enthralling the second you walked in.  Graffiti chalkboards, coloured blocks and a multi-level stage made an enchanting scene, plus light up letters across the proscenium arch spelling out “Matilda”.  As an audience member as a result you were drawn in by the colours and the detail that were on display right in front of you.

Dawn Trevor the director knows exactly how to put on a show to entertain Teesdale’’s audiences.  One of the hardest working and modest directors going, her eye for detail and ability to get the best from her cast really is something else.  Dawn is always keen to emphasise how it’s a team effort and she has certainly pulled together an incredible team here.  She was joined by Richard Dawson as Musical Director, Scott Edwards as Assistant/Technical Director and Choreographer and Isobel Harvey as Dance captain on the team of creatives and what a dream team they are.  Well done to all of you.

The harmonies shone through beautifully clear, the cast voices were stunning and the choreography was detailed, clever and very well-rehearsed.  The cast performed with a gusto and their energy was incredible.  It’s rare at a performance anywhere you’re entirely drawn in by the energy radiating from stage but Teesdale seem to manage this consistently!

Teesdale also make the most of technology in bringing this very clever production to life.  They used live animated projections across the back stage and pre-recorded scenes to add another dimension to the show.  The pre-recorded section from Trunchbull informing the maggots in the audience to turn their phones off entertained me no end!  Due to the size of their cast – 37 kids – the opening sequence to “Miracle” at the fancy dress party was incredibly busy but a fantastic bright lively opening number.

The actor playing Matilda, Holly Wake was an incredible storyteller and for one so young absolutely owned the stage.  She was utterly brilliant and her expressions were just perfect for the role. 

I loved the use of pre-recorded segments for the escapologist Jay Dutton and Acrobat Isabel Hoy to tell their story, really clever way to create the storytelling.

The “School song” I really very much enjoyed.  It was bright and lively and gave the audience a real treat, the stage space available was utilised cleverly, it was full of energy and the children’s reactions were sharp and appropriate.

Following the School song we were introduced to Miss Trunchbull and the actor bringing her to life, Matthew Kerr.  Matthew delivered the character with a flair and charisma, putting his own take on the well known character with ease.  I loved the setting, with the shot put Olympic footage being played in the background, and the older children being used as furniture, really great touches to bring that character to life.  Matthew is also the great grandson of past NODA president George Todd!  Well done Matthew.  I especially loved “Smell of Rebellion and the use of the pommel horse, the comic timing gave the audience some real laughs in that number which we appreciated, and the belt across the stage on the scooter in the finale!

Florence Backes as Miss Honey brought to life the lovely calm and nurturing character required for the role and had a beautiful singing voice.  She was an incredible contract to Mr & Mrs Wormwood played by Freddie Barrett and Maya Ahmad who were fantastic and gave us some excellent contrasts.

Also have to mention Freddie Wootton playing the infamous Bruce Bogtrotter who was excellent, what a voice.  Well done young man!  

The entire cast I have to say were marvellous. There was not a weak link on that stage and I enjoyed every one of your performances.  I really genuinely hope I see a lot more of you all.

Technically this show is a tough one.  Short quick succession scenes, pigtail throwing, glass toppling, newt climbing, chocolate cake consuming, blackboard writing, projections and storytelling all to try and combine in the production and Teesdale delivered brilliantly.  Everything was cleverly produced, slick and effective.  Really well done to all involved.  The set was fantastic and they even managed the swings for “When I grow Up” which the majority of groups would simply not be able to deliver die to the constraints of their venue.  The harmonies in that number shone through beautifully too making it a very poignant number.

All in all, I loved it and had a lovely night.  Thank you Teesdale!