Music &Lyrics: Tim Minchin
Book: Dennis Kelly
Reviewer: Katy Roberts
After a hugely successful original run Stratford-Upon-Avon, where it then transferred to London’s West End, Matilda the Musical opened on Broadway earlier this year to critical acclaim. Winning a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards and a total of four Tony Awards, as well as a Tony Honour Award for Excellence in Theatre.
Availble in two editions, standard and deluxe, which both feature performances by all four girls who portray Matilda; Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro. The standard edition contains a total of 24 tracks, including three brand new, never-previously-recorded tracks of Matilda’s stories. The Deluxe has the addition of two exclusive tracks: “Perhaps a Child”, (a song cut early in the development process) and a version of “Naughty” sung together by all 4 of Broadway’s Matilda’s.
Opening with the ominous ‘Overture’, which sets the tone of the show itself, a mixture of darkness and dread, coupled with the magic which makes this recording so wonderful to listen to. A group of children boast about being their parents’ miracles in the jovial ‘Miracle Part 1’, which comes abruptly to a heart-wrenching end as Matilda laments about what her parents call her – “a lousy little worm” and “a jumped-up little germ”.
From the very outset, it is evident that the stars of this recording are the four girls who portray Matilda, bringing a charming, gentle innocence to the character, which really tugs at the heartstrings. ‘Quiet’ and ‘I’m Here (Story 4)’ are particularly moving, as Matilda retreats into her mind to escape Miss Trunchbull’s tirade and recounts the final part of the story of the Escapologist (Ben Thompson) and his daughter, respectively.
Bertie Carvel is a revelation as the odious Miss Trunchbull, oozing venom and hatred in every syllable – never moreso than during ‘The Smell of Rebellion’, where Trunchbull attempts to crush the spirits of every child at the school. Lauren Ward’s performance as Miss Honey of ‘My House’ is hugely emotional, as she sings about her poverty-stricken existence, and how while her house may not be much, but it is home.
The ensemble songs are also fantastic, especially the rousing ‘Revolting Children’ towards the show’s end, the charming ‘When I Grow Up’ at the beginning of the second act (the ‘When I Grow Up/Naughty (Reprise)’ also works fantastically), while the additional bonus tracks on the Deluxe edition are an absolute delight. ‘Once Upon A Time (Story 1)’, ‘The Great Day Arrived (Story 2)’ and ‘The Trick Started Well (Story 3)’, make up the three sections of the story of the Escapologist and the Acrobat, which Matilda tells to the kindly librarian, Mrs Phelps. Together, the three tracks are incredibly beautiful, piecing together the incredibly bittersweet story of the Escapologist and the Acrobat.
The only criticism of this recording is that by itself, the cast recording cannot hope to convey all the excitement and anticipation of a live show, but the Matilda Broadway Cast Recording does a fantastic job, nonetheless. Tim Minchin’s lyrics are inspired; the sort of songs that remain long after one has finished listening, full of emotion, depth and lyrical genius, and deserving of all the praise they receive.