Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical

Cast: Emma Thompson, Alisha Weird, Lashana Lynch, Stephen Graham, Andrea Riseborough, Sindu Vee
Director: Matthew Warchus
Writer: Dennis Kelly. Songs: Tim Minchin

In this brand new on screen adaptation of the West End and Broadway hit we are gifted with a phenomenal cast of new faces and exciting new song and a magnitude of joy. Matilda the Musical (based on the original novel by Roald Dahl) tells the story of the young girl who doesn’t know where she fits in the world. But with the help of her powerful imagination and magic powers she creates quite a stir in her small village. Matilda (played by on screen newbie Alisha Weir) is an unwanted, unloved and neglected child by her devilish parents Mr and Mrs Wormwood (perfectly portrayed by Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough respectively). After befriending the local librarian, Mrs Phelps (Sindu Vee), Matilda discovers a passionate love for storytelling and much to her delight is enrolled at Crunchem Hall, the local school. At Crunchem Hall she meets Miss Honey (Lashana Lynch) who celebrates everything Matilda is and has to offer. But, due to a false warning from Mr Wormwood claiming that Matilda is a foul child, the headmistress of Crunchem Hall has other plans for her. Screen favourite and national treasure Emma Thompson brings the villain Miss Trunchbull to life as she does everything in her power to make the lives of her students a living hell. After teaming up with her classmates Matilda leads the rebellion against Trunchbull in a motivation and emotional climax. 

Alisha Weir brings a fresh face to the much loved character and manages to encapsulate her emotions and whimsy perfectly. For such a young performer to bring such a powerful and heart warming character to life with such style and confidence is worth celebrating. 

The original stage production has always had Trunchbull played by a man in one of the most famous, and highly celebrated, drag roles in musical theatre. However, for the on screen adaptation of Matilda the Musical, the creative choice to use Thompson in the role is inspired. She manages to create the perfect Roald Dahl villain, her comedic timing is visionary and her ability to be gruesome and gruelling, while still showcasing Agatha Trunchbull’s vulnerability, is perfect. 

The supporting cast also manage to embody the whimsy of a Roald Dahl classic, whilst still encapsulating the magic of the stage production. 

The costumes, hair and makeup, visuals and set design surpass all expectations. This film reeks with beauty and craft. 

At the press conference for the BFI London Film Festival, director Mark Warchus, expressed his enjoyment in the creative process of adapting the stage show for screen. Thanking the hard work of his fellow crew members, writer Dennis Kelly and lyricist Tim Minchin. Minchin’s music resonates beautifully on screen, whilst holding on to the perfection of the original stage score. A few songs have been cut from the original soundtrack, however, to create the perfect ending for the film Minchin penned a brand new two handed ballad to provide a beautiful finale for the story. Minchin discussed this at the press conference and explained that due to there being a lack of live audience when watching a film, closing the piece with Revolting Children (as does in the stage production) didn’t feel like the story had finished. 

That being said, at the public screening as part of the London Film Festival, where at least 50% of the audience was made up of school children, the royal festival hall erupted in applause as the credits rolled. A magical experience for such a beautifully crafted film. 

Matilda the Musical is a masterclass in stage to screen adaptations, a blessing in casting and an utter joy to watch. My advice to anyone looking forward to seeing this film is this, go to your local cinema on November 25th, get a big bucket of popcorn, a fizzy drink and shut the world out for 2 hours. It deserves to be seen on the big screen and enjoyed with friends, family or for some independent escapism. Congratulations to all involved for this feet in filmmaking. A pure joy. 

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical