What happens when a classic children’s book hits the stage as a musical? In this case, success. Matilda was published in 1988 by Roald Dahl, and the version we know today is classic. Part of school curriculum’s worldwide, this book teaches us that it’s all right to be a nerd, as long as you have the courage to stand up for those who count. Although the book has always been favored by children all across the globe, the story hit even greater heights in in 1996 when it was released as a film, which has come to be a cult classic. No matter how many times you’ve seen it, watching Matilda fly books around the room never gets old. Now, the children’s book has been adapted into yet another form: a musical. Initially produced by the acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company in England, the musical has also been brought to one of the most recognized stages in the world, on Broadway in New York City.

Synopsis of the Book

Matilda is a book about the titular character, Matilda Wormwood. She is a precocious, telekinetic child with the IQ of a genius. She loves to read, much to the horror of her rather dim-witted and slightly criminal parents, who treat books as others might treat adult novels in the hands of children. Matilda is a child who loves to read and do math, one who is loyal to her friends, and who has a trickster side which she uses to play harmless pranks on other people, such as her parents. However, she lives in a world that would be scary to any five-year-old, with shallow parents who believe that dinners should be eaten in front of the TV, that beauty is more important than brains, and a school principal who thinks the world would be better without children. Matilda is the story of a precocious child who meets an equally lonely soul and finally finds a home that is just right for her. This is a story that is far from predictable, with an imaginative plot.

The Play

The Broadway musical first brought to life in London by The Royal Shakespeare Company. This play is about the amazing worth that words and stories can have as weapons of survival, defense, and attack. It is an invigorating story of empowerment told from the perspective of the most defenseless people, children. This theme of empowerment is carried on even between scenes, when children can be seen moving the parts of the set for changes, include large alphabet blocks. The titular character is played in rotation by 4 brilliant little girls, with a magnificent cross-dressing performance of Mr. Carvel as The Trunchbull. The score is beautifully written with Gothic infusions by Mr. Minchin, underscoring the point that intelligence doesn’t have to undermine emotion.

“Matilda” the Broadway musical is a celebration of the childhood classic story by Roald Dahl. This show seems revolutionary on the current landscape of Broadway, being a children’s musical and requiring the audience to use their imagination and think things through carefully. It is a delight to watch, for both those hearing the story for the first time and those who have grown up with it.