I’m in awe of the talent of a 10-year-old girl. Last night, I took Big to see Matilda the Musical in Philadelphia and you have to know that Mabel Tyler, who is cast as one of three Matildas (the actresses rotate each night) was just so incredibly phenomenal that I can’t stop talking about her.
To think that a ten-year-old from Atlanta can seamlessly pull off a very strong British accent through lengthy monologues and songs blows my mind. She’s magical on stage, convincing the audience that she’s the bright, honest and fair child she portrays. And, yet, during the final scenes you get a true sense of the playful child she must be underneath. In fact, I think my son said it well when he turned to me and commented, “she suddenly seems so much like Little; the way she jumped as she waved with that big come-play-with-me smile. And her cartwheel off stage. That’s how Little acts whenever she’s happy.”
Of course, the entire cast was phenomenal. I loved the adorable Lavendar, played last night by Charlie Kersh. We were wowed by Bryce Ryness’ protrayal of Miss Turnchbull. Ora Jones as Mrs. Phelps was exactly the librarian I imagine the perfect librarian to be and Quinn Mattfeld as Mr. Wormword nailed his part.
This morning, as Big and I discussed the show, we talked about the large number of minor-age cast members that rotate through the show. We talked about how amazing it is that the adult actors are able to work so well with different casts night after night, and how must work it must be to teach not one but three casts of children to work smoothly through scripts, songs and choreography (to say nothing of set and costumes!) But my favorite part of the discussion was when we were talking about the children — how they leave their homes for 9 or more months to be a part of the show. We discussed child actor laws and I mentioned that, while they’re away from home, they’re still in school. Big’s response, “I wonder if Miss Honey (Jennifer Blood) is their teacher,” caught me off guard. I glanced at him to see if he was serious and, in a way, he was. Ms. Blood’s Miss Honey was so very convincing, he later commented that “she’s such a caring teacher. Exactly the kind of teacher every student could learn from.”
Should Your Child See Matilda?
While I’m not sure if there are official rules, most Broadway-related propaganda recommends children under age 6 not attend a theater performance and I warmly agree. Matilda is 2 hours and 30 minutes (plus a 15 minute intermission that ends abruptly) and that’s a long time to sit in a semi-comfortable chair without a lot of moving space between rows and, certainly, with tall heads in front of you.
Those with knowledge of the Roald Dahl book and the movie staring Mara Wilson and Danny Devito already know that there are plot twists that pull together at the end tremendously. I’d expect that children ages 8 and older will understand the connection without needing an explanation.
There are sudden loud noises and lots of bright lights reaching out into the audience at varied times. The show, of course, is created to be kid-friendly and much of last night’s audience were children, so reactions were expected.
Younger children, however, were carried out in parents’ arms, many sleeping. It was a late night and there were comments from many theater-goers that these children were true “troopers.”
Matilda was my 12-year-old’s first professional theater experience. I’d wanted to bring him to shows in the past, but it was just this Fall that he started showing interest. Matilda is the perfect first theater-going experience. It’s a fun story with characters, locations and comedy that are child-friendly and easy to identify with. As Broadway.com reports, “Matilda is perfect for kids: Colorful costumes, onstage magic and over-the-top comic performances make this musical a great Broadway outing for young theatergoers. They will not have a better time on Broadway this season than at Matilda.” If you have time, definitely prepare your family to see Matilda the Musical with my recommendations.
I received 2 press tickets to see Matilda the Musical. Use code QUIET for 35% off your Broadway Philadelphia tickets to Matilda the Musical at the Academy of the Arts through KimmelCenter.org.
© 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.