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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Nov 22, 2017

“Matilda The Musical” Theatre Review: Talented Child Actors Make This Musical About Child Empowerment Very Entertaining From Beginning To End

 “Matilda the Musical” is based on the 1988 children’s novel by Roald Dahl (he also wrote “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) filmed in Hollywood in 1996 with Mara Wilson in the title role. It was made into a musical in 2010 by the Royal Shakespeare Company, premiered at West End in 2011 and in Broadway in 2013, receiving wide critical acclaim.

Matilda is a bright and precocious child who’s unhappy because she’s ignored and neglected by her own parents. In school, she finds comfort in the caring Miss Honey who defends her from the cruel headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, a terror who makes the lives of all the other children miserable. The show then becomes an inspiring tale of empowerment for the most oppressed group of all, innocent children who can easily be abused by grown ups.

There’s a distinctly British consciousness in the material and this is well served by the entire cast who tries its best to deliver all their lines with a pronounced British accent. When we watched the play, the title role was played by Uma Martin and she’s quite a marvel as Matilda. Someone tells us another child actress is even better, but we’re honestly quite satisfied with Uma who’s just full of winning verve and spunk.

The actors in this fine ensemble all deliver well in their respective roles, with Jamie Wilson’s casting as the cross-dressing headmistress Miss Trunchbull, who hates children (calling them “maggots) and loves punishing them, quite a grotesque but truly ingenious masterstroke.

Other standouts are Joaquin Valdez (special kudos for entertaining the audience even during the intermission, this talented guy surely deserves more exposure) and Carla Laforteza as Matilda’s irresponsible and cartoonish parents, Cris Villonco as Miss Honey and Emiline Guinid as Mrs. Phelps.

All the child actors who support Uma as Matilda’s schoolmates are splendid, performing exuberantly with so much contagious gusto in the well choreographed production numbers, particularly in the rousing, riotous “Revolting Children”.

The immersive sets, studded with books on towering shelves all over the place since Matilda loves reading, gives the stage a wonderful, magical look. You have up to December 10 to watch “Matilda” at Meralco Theatre on Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets available at Ticketworld.