|Matilda; the face of a new stamp!|
Matilda is my favorite Roald Dahl book. Perhaps one of my favorite books, period. I can visualize my dog-eared copy, read over and over throughout my childhood. On the way to London last Saturday, I recited some of my favorite Matilda lines to my husband (what a patient, generous man he is!).
But my joy was edged with doubt. I'd never even seen the movie version of Matilda, as I was so afraid Hollywood would mess it up. So despite my complete love for musicals, and all the positive reviews Matilda had garnered, including a ringing endorsement from one of my Bath Spa tutors, I was anxious. After all, this blog isn't called Critically Yours for nothing. And ruining a beloved childhood story would really sting.
|Check out this set!|
Then the set! Oh my. The stage was lined with letters, in a crazy, random joy, like something out of a Tim Burton movie. But the longer I looked, the more I began to see words forming: "Phenomenon," "Malice," "Acrobat," "Escape."
|Matilda & Mr. Wormwood|
|Matilda tells her story to Mrs. Phelps, the librarian|
|Mrs. Trunchbull dances, |
with Miss Honey in background
I'm not much of a cryer, but even so, I gushed tears at the curtain call. I know, the play was over! But I was so struck by the little girl playing Matilda (Eleanor Worthington Cox that night, though the role is shared amongst four girls). She stood alone on the stage and accepted her thunderous applause. How often do you see that? It was so perfect, after a story all about rebellion and girl power and standing up for yourself, to see a stage dominated by a pre-teen girl. It reminded me of being young, and all the children I have taught and continue to write for.
Then I got to thinking about how unique Matilda is in that regard. And not only Matilda, but almost all the main characters in the story are female: Mrs. Trunchbull, Miss Honey, Mrs. Wormwood, the librarian. Sure, the current children's book market is dominated by stories about girls. But I believe Matilda is Dahl's only female hero. And how many young girls have the leading role in movies? TV? Not to get too political about it, but did you see this study showing that American Sunday newscasts in the month of February (a month heavily dominated by discussions of contraception) had 52 male guests and 4 female guests? All of that is why I bawled at the curtain call.
And why I want to add my voice to the chorus of people applauding Matilda the Musical (and check out the website for more photos and music samples). Seriously, go see it! Even my husband, who has never read the book, and has no interest in children's literature (outside of all my babble about it, of course!), loved the show. And we were surrounded by adults. Plenty of kids, but even more families. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, singles, couples, teenagers... it seemed people were ostensibly dragging the kids along, but they couldn't wait to see it for themselves.
It was hard to leave. Like a movie, I wanted to stay in my seat and watch the whole thing play out again. Maybe next Christmas.
And for all you Americans, I hear arrangements are in process to bring it to New York in 2013. I really think this is a show that will be around for many years to come.
In the meantime, some lovely clips from the show:
*All photos and videos are courtesy of the RSC's Matilda the Musical website