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  • Review by john Murray

Magical Matilda the Musical

Ever since Jamie & The Giant Peach captured young hearts the work of Roald Dahl has been held as a benchmark in great story telling. His Charlie & The Chocolate Factory became Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and set new standards until the Dahl family estate approached RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) in 2003 to see if they should like to write a musical about Matilda, an extraordinary school girl with a great mind and fascinating powers. RSC accepted the challenge and commissioned playwright Denis Kelly to adapt the book into a stage script. Five years later and appointed director Matthew Warehus was ready to make this a musical but not before he asked comedian Tim Minchin with his cleaver wordplay to write the songs.

By 2010 it was ready to be staged and won the Evening Standard Best New Musical Award then a record-breaking seven Olivier Awards. This touring version began one year ago and to date 9 million people have seen the show worldwide. There are many aspects to this show which features comedy, great music and a continuing story dreadful parenting and a bully of a Head Mistress at school.

The strengths are in the performances with young Scarlett Cecil starring in a most demanding role as Matilda and gaining a deserved standing ovation for a faultless performance. Her school pals engaged in a most electrifying dance sections. Seen from all parts of this large theatre the positioning and sequencing were superb featuring desks, training mats and swings. Toby Mocrei, Ben Pike, Alfie Sanderson, Toby Hales, Lillie Downton, Aiya Augustin, Lily Van Veen and Darcy Kelly all thoroughly deserve credit as even their curtain call was sequenced on scooters.

Elliot Harper as Miss Trunchbull was comically menacing and the slight frame of Carly Thomas was a much loved and believable Miss Honey the teacher.

Tim Minchin songs feature throughout with the most memorable being the full ensemble on Revolting Children sung on the desks, Naughty sung by Matilda and the most dramatic opening to Act Two with When I Grow Up. Although quite a simple stage set the lighting effects were revolutionary as supplied by White Light Ltd and placed by the company known as Unusual Rigging. Being school holidays this extended run will still be in high demand with additional matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but miss it at your peril.

Edinburgh Playhouse until April 27

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