Based on the beloved children’s book by Roald Dahl, “Matilda The Musical,” now playing at NextStop Theatre, is a story about a young girl named Matilda (Jane Keifer) who questions adults, challenges authority figures, and faces down bullies—the grown-up kind.
Matilda is in the unenviable position of being stuck with a mother, Mrs. Wormwood (Shayla Lowe) who wishes she’d spend more time watching TV rather than reading books, and a father, Mr. Wormwood (Joshua Redford) who constantly calls Matilda “son,” indignant that his wife produced a girl instead of a boy. When they aren’t bullying Matilda, they’re ignoring her.
When a kind teacher, Miss Honey (Meredith Eib) recognizes Matilda’s astounding intellectual gifts, another bully appears, this time the formidable headmistress Miss Trunchbull (Brett Cassidy), who is convinced that children can be taught only after they have been “broken.” Trunchbull is particularly incensed by the precocious and gifted Matilda, as she sets about terrorizing Matilda and her classmates.
The spirited young Matilda, however, will not be intimidated. She leads her fellow students in a revolt against “The Trunchbull,” while also inspiring her teacher, Miss Honey to stand up to the bully in her own life, both of them ultimately taking charge of their destinies, while also taking down a bully and righting some wrongs along the way.
Director Evan Hoffman, who has assembled a talented and energetic cast, clearly has a gift for drawing strong performances out of young artists, all of whom demonstrate skill and polish beyond their tender years. Notable performances include Shayla Lowe’s portrayal of the flaky and superficial Mrs. Wormwood, Joshua Redford’s embodiment of the slimy used car salesman, Mr. Wormwood, and Meredith Eib’s (Miss Honey), delivery of a lovely rendition of “My House” exhibiting an impressive blend of vocal clarity and sweetness.
Brett Cassidy (Miss Trunchbull) demonstrates a gift for comedic timing that provides some of the show’s funniest moments, and Jane Keifer seems to effortlessly capture the strength and determination of Matilda, as if she had simply leapt out of the pages of Dahl’s book.
Paris Francesca’s costume designs immeasurably enhance the production, and Emily Lotz’s sets imaginatively transform the space into a living room, a library, and a classroom, as well as the dreaded Miss Trunchbull’s office.
Don’t miss this charming production of Matilda. Beyond the hilarity and outlandish characters lurk timeless truths about kindness, justice, and empowerment in the face of fear. The world needs more Matildas.
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes with 1 intermission.
“Matilda The Musical” is playing now through December 22, 2019 at NextStop Theatre. For more information and tickets, click here.