Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical is an absolute delight that you will want to see before it closes at Ogden’s Ziegfeld Theater this weekend. I wish I had caught this one much earlier because it is phenomenal. Not to worry though, this fine cast moves the show to Park City’s Egyptian Theatre for an additional two-week run. But don’t wait for the PC version of this show, grab your tickets now in Ogden. It is amazing.
Playwright Dennis Kelly combines his talent with the Music and Lyrics of Tim Minchin in this thoroughly entertaining romp of a production. The show features a family of, er, well, not your normal proportions. Entertaining is perhaps the right word to describe the assortment that our heroine, Matilda (Victoria Bingham), finds herself attached to. She seems to have captured ALL the IQ that was allotted their household and finds herself especially at odds with her father, Mr. Wormwood (Eb Madson) who clings to the slim hope that Matilda will somehow become a boy if he only insists that she is one. It doesn’t work, but the interplay between Bingham and Madson is stunning. He, in his boisterous, know-it-all braggadocio while the young actress respectfully, dejectedly and absolutely insists, “I’m a GIRL.” Bingham is so captivating in the role that the audience is immediately swept up by her sad demeanor that oozes charm. The role of Matilda is double cast in this production with Pippa Parry bringing it home on other nights, but on this night Miss Bingham set the stage.
The Wormwood family, I am sure, have their moments of normalcy but have the decency to keep those few times locked away well out of sight of the audience. Madson steers the whole boat in a magnificently funny way. His timing and natural feel for comedy shine as Wormwood goes about his entrepreneurial life scamming the Russians (or anyone who is in the vicinity) without a doubt that he will succeed in a big way. His wife, played by Becky Knowles perfectly, has more than enough doubt and sarcasm for her family. Knowles seems to be a master comedienne and delights onstage. Wormwood’s son, Michael (Isaac Allred) becomes one with the sofa and achieves a certain Zen with a Grin that is hard to put out of your mind. Allred’s character is played right on key, and he delivers, but it is especially nice to see him in the ensemble getting a chance to show us more. As a member of the teen ensemble, there were times when I was sure that he would need to have concussion protocol—his choreography was so wild and entertaining. Poor, Poor Matilda.
If you know the story, you will know that Matilda attends a slightly less than Charm School, ruled over by headmaster Trunchbull (Quinn Kapetanov). To say the children are afraid of this guy is over-simplification. Heck, I was, and probably my grandchildren will be as well. Kapetanov fills up the Theatre with a huge voice and talent. Oh, and he wears a dress. I should have been ready for this comedic tour-de-force when I read his simple bio: “Quinn has done a lot of shows, this is his second one wearing a dress.” That’s it. You must watch the quiet ones—and with Kapetanov you have no choice. What a treat.
I don’t know that it is possible to counteract Trunchbull, but if anyone is up to the task, it is Natalie Peterson who plays the aptly named Miss Honey. Peterson is at ease on stage and in this role. She charms the audience immediately and brings us to her side as she cares so very much for Matilda. Peterson’s strong and beautiful voice is evident throughout the show. In fact, all the voices of this show are strong and right—well done to the entire cast and Musical Director Kelli Morris.
Director Morgan Parry has done a wonderful job in assembling the best throughout the show. From Choreographer (Kacee Neff) to Costume & Hair Design (Alicia Kondrick)—and believe me, hair is very much a part of this play—this show is a knock-out. I hope that Amber Hansen was paid an overtime stipend because as Dialect Coach, she surely earned it. There are some production values here that rival ANY in the state.
It is hard to watch a show like this where talent seems to seep from its every pore; it becomes a bit of sensory overload. Tyson Allred (Escapeologist/Sergei), SueAnn Phillips (Mrs. Phelps), Colton Kraus (Children’s Entertainer/Teen Ensemble), Kate Potter (Silk Acrobat/Teen Ensemble), and Jack Toll (Rudopho/Teen Ensemble) are all perfectly cast and vital to the show. Each showed me a story about to happen with their character(s) that, had the playwright chosen to go there; I would have followed along willingly.
The Ziegfeld Theatre is establishing quite a troupe of young talent that is simply outstanding. In this show the natural attention is on the younger schoolmates who join Matilda in their war with Trunchbull, but the older group, the Teen Ensemble (Kallam MacKay, Kaylee Nelson, Keely Parry, Gracie Sabin) keep the show firing on all cylinders through choreographed movement, while getting the set pieces and younger actors to their marks. This is a very talented group of young actors.
Then, of course, there is the “Chokey-bait,” the bain of Trunchbull’s existence, the children—schoolmates to Matilda. There is huge talent here. Big voices. These school chums Bruce Bogtrotter (Henry Bell), a cake-eater and belching specialist, Wyatt Christensen as Eric, energy personified, Hortensia (Camila Lucena), acrobatic, energetic, and polished, Declan McAlhany as Nigel, a budding talent, Lucy Whitby as Lavender providing comic relief and an occasional Newt as needed, and Kealia Wootton—a strong young dancer, playing Amanda, provide the backbone to this show and a promise of more great shows at the Ziegfeld for years to come.
Go and see this show. It is the best version I have seen of this musical. If time is short, catch it up at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City. It will be well worth it. Great job Cast and Crew!