Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical ★★★★★

Matilda the Musical moves from the stage to the big screen with ease

For those of us who have been lucky enough to enjoy the stage version of this classic story, this transfer to the screen is an utter delight! Replete with some of the best-known numbers from that show alongside new music written by the genius that is Tim Minchin, you’ll find your toes tapping from the get-go.

Originally written by Roald Dahl in 1988, the surprisingly dark story tells of a young child who finds refuge from her unloving parents in books beyond her years, such as Great Expectations and Nicholas Nickleby. When she belatedly starts school, she finds an ally in the sweet schoolteacher, Miss Honey, and she uses her newfound ability for telekinesis to avenge Miss Honey’s treatment by her evil aunt. Returning the school to a place of learning and fun, this frees Matilda from the shackles of her emotionally-abusive parents.

All images by Daniel Smith / Netflix

Unlike the 1996 Danny DeVito-directed film version, the musical sticks more closely to Dahl’s original story – even the gates to Crunchem Hall lend a sense of historical doom. However, this makes Matilda’s flights of fancy – walking upside down on the roof in Naughty for instance – even more magical. The young Alisha Weir embodies the super-intelligent, fearless Matilda with such charm that you can’t help but root for her happy ending.

Dame Emma Thompson underplays Agatha Trunchbull beautifully, imbuing her with a cold and calculating persona and a big voice in her vocal numbers. Unlike the stage play, you do lose a sense of claustrophobia in the school scenes, though it’s great to see Ellen Kane’s fabulous choreography enacted on a larger scale. The youth ensemble shine, particularly in School Song and Revolting Children. And, of course, When I Grow Up will never fail to bring a tear of joy to the eye!

This is a love letter to the stage show and deserves all its plaudits. You’ll laugh and cry and leave with a a spring in your step and a song in your heart!

Catchy tunes, fun choreography! What’s not to like? – ★★★★★ (5 stars)

Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical is in cinemas now and will be released on Netflix on Christmas Day