Show brings a unique kind of theater story that touches the imagination

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Mandel
Front row on swings from left: Kelly Kobata (Alice), Miriam Shem-Tov (Nigel), Kaileya De La Serna (Lavender), and Ashlen Hsu (Hortensia). The second act opens with children on swings singing “When I Grow Up,” envisioning the many ways they will have more control of their lives when they become adults.

By Camille Bounds

Camille Bounds

Writer Roald Dahl’s beloved novel “Matilda” tells the story of an abused young girl who is gifted with psychokinetic powers and handles all the terrible neglect with an abundance of charm, wit and an ability to “always make things right.”

A Royal Shakespeare Company production from London with music and words by Tim Minchin with the book by Dennis Kelly, “Matilda the Musical” brings a unique kind of theater that touches the imagination and creates roads you might not want to cross.

Winning five Tony awards in 2013 and seven Olivier awards in 2012 reinforces the fact that they must be doing something right.

The show spews scores of talented children who recreate choreographer Christine Carrillo’s intricate chorography. Heading it all up and in almost every scene during the June 30 show is Lucy Sky Levy who plays the 5-year-old “Matilda.” She is an amazing actress, singer and dancer who owns the stage every moment she is on. (Izabel Stevens also plays “Matilda” in alternate shows because it’s a demanding role and I’ve been told she is just as talented.)

Geoffrey Ward directs with a velvet glove and gives his actors the leeway needed to deliver the show’s unique plot. Tressa Bender carries the role of the terrorizing headmistress “Miss Agatha Trunchbull” who makes all other villains we know milquetoast.  Matilda’s dimwitted parents, played by Jason Eves and Colleen Havey, makes you want to call a child abuse hotline. Evandra Aurelia (with a stunning voice) as “Miss Honey” who understands what Matilda’s abilities are gives the few soft gentle moments in the performance.

The real scene stealer after Miss Honey are the marvelous sets by Kate Logni Pratts group with desks that slide a classroom on and off the stage by the moment, with a delightful number with swings, and a magic blackboard. Music director Ron Bowman leads a fine 10-piece orchestra that completes the show.

“Matilda” will give you a bumpy, heart-wrenching ride into a favorite children’s tale with music and clever lyrics. It will also make you think and wonder how deep and true it might be in some areas.

Camille Bounds is the arts and entertainment columnist for  Morgan Hill Life and Gilroy Life.