A special little girl with brains and quick wit steals the heart of the audience at the Broward Center for Performing Arts.
– review of the show (Ft. Lauderdale).
Matilda, the award-winning Broadway show, is a story of an extra-ordinary 5-year old girl who is a genius, but unfortunately has parents that think very little of her. Her mom, Mrs. Wormwood, is too busy tangoing with her dance partner Rudolpho and her eccentric father treats her ever so cruelly, especially for being a bookworm. I’m surprised that child care services didn’t end up on the stage for the way he treated his daughter. He actually had the audacity to tell her to shut her pie hole in lieu of her simply wanting to recite a story. However, while her hardship at home seemed to be too overbearing, she soon had another bully surface, Principal Miss Trunchbull, while beginning school. It truly is a spectacle watching such a young mind take on obstacles without any inkling of giving up.
Sharing the title role of Matilda, Gabby Gutierrez, Jamie MacLean (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) and Jenna Weir were all phenomenal. I was in awe at how a little girl was able to remember those big words, speak Russian and memorize times tables at the top of her head. There’s no doubt that all of them are gifted children themselves. They didn’t miss a beat in any part of the musical both vocally and through the several choreographed scenes.
Throughout the play each scene really came alive…just detail after detail from the fluorescent lights designed by Tony Award winner Hugh Vanstone and the sound effects by Olivier Award winner Simon Baker. Their cohesiveness was a match made in heaven. One of the scenes I was most impressed with happened just before Miss Trunchbulll entered the classroom. Red lights started flashing throughout the stage while high-pitch adrenaline kicking instrumentals overlapped them. What an eye-popping scene. I couldn’t help, but inch closer to the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next.
Furthermore, the illusion by Paul Kieve (Batman Live) was simply magical. It’s one of the elements of the show that keeps you mesmerized throughout the entire play.
Playing the ultimate bully Miss Trunchbull, Dan Chameroy (Beauty and the Beast) is a spectacle. With help no doubt from the costume department, Trunchbull proves to be not the type of principal that anyone would want to mess with. Her facial expressions were mean enough to make a pit-bull cry. Yet, not to be overlooked as well was her big upper body. She looked like she could definitely lift some weights…maybe with cars as dumbbells. Like Matilda’s parents, she had no interest in seeing Matilda read a book. She believes that the only thing a kid need is discipline and her favorite punishment for the them was sending them to the “chokey” which is not your average detention hall, but more like a prison with spikes on the wall.
Miss Honey, who is played by Jennifer Bowles (Saturday Night Live), is one of the characters that actually encourages Matilda to be a genius. As her teacher, Miss Honey secretly gives Matilda books before the discourteous Miss Trunchbull finds out. Lacking the confidence to even stand up for herself, Miss Honey’s not sure she could actually help Matilda and really lays it out there during the number Pathetic. In the end, it takes a brave little girl to stand up to Miss. Trunchbull while others cower in disbelief. Truly amazing how others can take a lesson from Matilda on how to stand up to a bully.
The play is great for children and adults alike and will no doubt keep you laughing and grinning from ear to ear all night. A well deserved kudos goes to Matt Harrington (Mr. Wormwood) and Darcy Stewart (Mrs. Wormwood) for bringing that bevy of laughs.
Make sure to get your tickets soon as the play continues its run only till May 7th.