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Matilda the musical (the first equity U.S. tour) opened at LA’s Ahmanson Theatre last night. The audience and I were thoroughly impressed with the cast, catchy numbers and high energy choreography and staging. Matilda is played by three young actors on rotation (Mia Sinclair Jenness at the opening night performance) and there is no denying that the 9 year old effortlessly carries the show with her wittiness, spunk, grace, charm, and triple threat performance.
Mia Sinclair Jenness and cast in Matilda. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Those familiar with the 1998 book by Roald Dahl will be able to follow the story through the different plot twists and turns. Anyone who’s seen the film with Danny DeVito can also follow the gist of the story but be forewarned that Matilda’s telekinesis is only a small part of the musical in comparison. For those who are enjoying Matilda for the first time, grab a copy of the book from the local library or bring your best ears with you because the British accents are heavy and often portions of dialogue are difficult to catch.
Company of Matilda. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
The Wormwoods. Photo by Joan Marcus
What makes Matilda the musical a joy to see aren’t the musical numbers (that with few exceptions are often forgettable and jarring) nor the handful of colorful adult characters. In fact it is not even the storytelling that similar with the book moves at an alarming pace from farce to irony to empathy and back again that you. A talented troupe of child actors make this a must-see show. It is their show no matter the fact that for some crazy reason the children (sans Matilda) take the first bow before the adult ensemble.
These children ARE the show with their scene stealing scenes, numbers and one-liners. SHOUT-OUT: One child actor whom I could not take my eyes off every single time she was on stage was Cassidy Hagel (Alice) who on occasion also plays Lavender (Matilda’s best friend) and Amanda.
I previously mentioned that the musical was for the most part forgettable and jarring. Allow me to clarify that there are certain numbers that you’ll likely be humming on the way out to the car park ($9 per car at the CTG). Personally, I loved the second act’s numbers: When I Grow Up (with the delightful swings), I’m Here (sung by Matilda and The Escape Artist, Justin Packard), and My House (sung by Miss Honey, Jennifer Blood, and The Escape Artist, Justin Packard) and the catchy Revolting Children.
Who Should See This Show: I highly recommend this show to young families (ages 6+), book lovers and those who are looking for a good heartwarming and humorous spot of entertainment.
Where to Sit: I was seated in Row A of the Mezzanine and the view was perfect allowing me to take in all the action on stage. I would recommend a center stage seat in one of the first few rows of either the Orchestra or Mezzanine.
Disclaimer: My ticket was generously comped by CTGLA but the opinions are all my own.