What’s on London Musicals: Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical at the Cambridge Theatre London.
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Matilda the Musical is an Olivier Award-winning musical written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin. It is based on the children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. Produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, following the musicals debut run in Stratford for twelve weeks, beginning in November 2010 and running through January 2011. It received its West End premiere on 24 November 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre. Matilda has since received widespread critical acclaim, fast becoming one of the most successful British musicals in modern history. The show won seven Olivier Awards including Best New Musical, at the 2012 ceremony – the most awards ever won by a single show. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination.
The Royal Shakespeare Company announced in September 2009 that it was to stage a musical version of the Roald Dahl novel Matilda, naming the writer Dennis Kelly as playwright, musical comedian Tim Minchin as the composer/lyricist, with direction by Matthew Warchus, orchestrations and music supervision by Chris Nightingale, set design by Rob Howell and illusions and special effects by Paul Kieve.
The musical opened at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England on December 9, 2010, following previews from November 9. The choreographer is Peter Darling. Bertie Carvel headlined as Miss Trunchbull, with Paul Kaye and Josie Walker as Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood Matilda’s parents, and Warchus’ wife Lauren Ward as Miss Honey. Three young actresses alternated in the title role: Adrianna Bertola (aged 11), Josie Griffiths (aged 10) and Kerry Ingram (aged 11). The show ended its premiere engagement on January 30, 2011.
It was announced in May 2011 that the musical would receive its West End debut at the Cambridge Theatre. The show was originally scheduled to begin previews on 18 October 2011. However, due to structural and installation work at the theatre, the start of the performances was delayed until 25 October. This subsequently pushed back the opening night from 22 November to 24 November. The musical opened in London to more positive and ecstatic reviews, with Kaye and Carvel receiving high praise for their performances. All of the principal adult cast returned from the Stratford run. Matilda was re-cast to include four actresses who would rotate in the title role: Eleanor Worthington Cox, Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram (the only actress to reprise her role from Stratford), and Sophia Kiely.
In October 2011, it won Best Musical and Best Actor (Bertie Carvel) in the Theatre Awards UK, and in November 2011 it won the Ned Sherrin Award for Best Musical as part of The Evening Standard Awards.
For the 2012 Olivier Awards, Matilda was nominated in all 10 categories it was eligible. The show won Best New Musical, Best Director (Matthew Warchus), Best Actor in a Musical (Bertie Carvel), Best Actress in a Musical (The Four Matildas), Best Theatre Choreographer (Peter Darling), Best Set Design (Rob Howell) and Best Sound Design (Simon Baker). This is a record amount for any show in the event’s 36th year history.
On 17 April 2012, Steve Furst and Hayley Flaherty took over the roles of Mr. Wormwood and Miss Honey, respectively, from original stars Kaye and Ward. Two of the original London Matilda’s (Ingram and Kiely) also left the show that weekend.
On 29 February 2012, the RSC announced the show would transfer to Broadway in Spring 2013. The production is set to open in March with rehearsals beginning in January. It will still be set in England despite initial pressure for the show to be Americanised.
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