If you’re familiar with the musical rendition of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, you know that this statement isn’t as heartless as it seems.
In fact, it’s downright complimentary.
The Walnut Street Theatre was gracious enough to host my family at a preview of their new mainstage show this past Friday night. And I’m struggling for words of criticism about the experience! It truly was a wonderful night for my children, husband, and myself. Yes, I brought my children to a professional theater production. An evening production. On a Friday night. In the city. Some may call this move crazy (honestly – I thought it myself). So we braced ourselves for the inappropriately timed bathroom trips, snack needs, toy distractions, and hallway hangouts to not disturb the other theater goers. And you know what happened?
They were completely captivated for the entire show. A 5 year old and a 3 year old.
I’ll repeat. My 3 year old (most shocking of the two) nicely sat through a professional theater production. She laughed. She watched. She tried to mimic the dancer’s motions. She asked questions about the plotline. Gosh – she stayed awake for the entire experience. It was that good. And my 5 year old has been singing the songs since we left.
Matilda is the story of a girl enamored with the imaginative as she struggles to win acceptance from her family all while battling an oppressive headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, at her new school. Her tale shows that with perseverance and courage, children have the power to “change their destiny.”
Jemma Bleu Greenbaum was an outstanding Matilda! In fact, her performance absolutely made me question my own adequacy in memorization 😊 . For the children in attendance, it’s incredibly powerful to see a peer command such presence and authority amongst adults. Not only does her character do this, but Greenbaum displays this in her performance capability too.
The accompanying cast of children was amazing as well. Their vocals were on-point. And I found their performance to be engaging. Bruce’s scene eating chocolate cake (played by Akiva Schostak) was a particular favorite!
Naturally, the adults are all fantastic performers as well (Could you expect less?). Their wit and command of the crowd is beyond admirable. Miss Trunchbill (Ian Merrill Peakes), Mrs. Wormwood (Lyn Philistine), Mr. Wormwood (Christopher Sutton), Rudolpho (Jacob Tischler), and Mrs. Phelps (Demetria Joyce Bailey) had the audience rolling with laughter throughout the performance. Laura Giknis’s portrayal of Miss Honey pulls at your heart strings. The choreography is really fun too.
During intermission, I had a nice conversation with a fellow theater-goer regarding children at the show. She was impressed that such young kids were doing so well, and she revealed how she was trying to convince her daughter to bring her 3 year old grandson to a show. After this experience, I feel confident saying that if you feel your child can handle it, I would give it a go!
There’s something about live theater that’s so much more powerful than the movie screen. Musicals, in particular, have a way of pulling children with the songs and choreography. If you want your child to appreciate the arts and foster their own imaginative skills, seeing a show is a great choice. The Walnut has such high quality performances with the set design, music, and actors that it’s worth the investment. Plus, it’s a wonderful organization to support. They are highly committed to preserving arts education for youth and bringing theatre and music to the community.
Matilda is now open and will be playing through January 6, 2019. For tickets, go to www.walnutstreetteatre.org or Ticketmaster. They have several holiday-themed shows coming up as well, so add it to your winter plans!