9 Thoughts I Had While Seeing 'Matilda: The Musical' at The Fabulous Fox Theatre Last Night

By Krystin Arneson
In Culture

Last night I went to see “Matilda” at The Fox Fabulous Fox Theatre. It was one of my favorite books as a child. I loved its dark humor, author Roald Dahl’s willingness to not be all sunshine and roses, and, most of all, his central character that was a precocious girl who not only devoured books but was questioning the nonsensical rules of a grownup’s world.

Still from "Matilda" | Courtesy of The Fox

Still from “Matilda” | Courtesy of The Fox

It’s been years since I read the story—probably 15 or 16—so seeing the play last night at The Fox was a trip back in time, and it was vastly different seeing it from the perspective of someone who’s an adult/trying to adult.

A few thoughts below, in no particular order (I was writing in the dark):

1/ These ensemble kids are super-talented. It would be so easy to throw kids speaking in adorable English accents on a stage and count on their cuteness to carry the show, but dang, these child-actors have some serious lungs and dance skills.

2/ This school is really scary. Like, who would even send their kids here? Even the nice parents send their kids here. Do they do open houses? 

3/ This snazzy little block number is REALLY cool. So there’s this number where the song is alphabetized, in a way: The lyrics incorporate a letter of the alphabet and it’s sung out right as an alphabet block with the letter is pushed through a grid structure that the “big kids” at evil Miss Trunchbull’s school are climbing this fence. So, if they sing “hello” in a verse (and of course in the accents, it’s like, “‘ello!”), then one of the kids will pose on the “L” block. My explanation makes no sense, but the number is really cool and the interplay of singing and choreography is so well coordinated, it’s ridiculous.

4/ MISS TRUNCHBULL OMG. Two people behind me lost their minds when she came out on stage. Miss Trunchbull is played by a man, which in and of itself isn’t terribly funny, but he completely encapsulates her character so well and has a wonderful gift of letting pauses happen on stage and is just so amazing.

5/ Wait, this is actually really dark: child neglect, child abuse, auto fraud, discouraging education and knowledge, murder, terrible suits. And people were complaining about Lemony Snicket when I was growing up …


7/ Poor Bruce. I mean, is it really better to eat the whole cake or just go to the chokey? 

8/ Oh yeah, the chokey: a torture chamber with spikes nailed into the walls. I’m going to have nightmares tonight.

9/ Amanda has very strong hair to be swung around like that. What shampoo does she use?   

“Matilda” is at The Fox until Nov. 1. 

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