We recently had the opportunity to see one of our favorite people, as well as some other familiar faces, perform in Matilda at Lakewood Center for the Arts. Based on my absolute favorite Roald Dahl novel, Matilda is the story of a brilliant little girl who lives in the world of books. Her parents to not recognize her specialness, or if they do, it is only to resent it. Matilda develops some unique abilities, which she uses to help her teacher, Miss Honey, with whom she develops a loving and nurturing relationship.
We had actually never been to Lakewood, which is nestled in the city of Lake Oswego. The property is quite pretty, so we took advantage of the grassy areas to stretch our legs and smell the flowers (literally) as we waited for friends to arrive.
I had taken Chicken to the Broadway national tour a couple of years ago, and I have to say, it wasn’t my favorite. There were some really cool parts, but overall it was a bit shouty and angry for my taste, especially compared to the sweetness of the book. Luckily, we had a completely different experience with this production. The kids were fantastic, the singing was great, and it had a completely different feel than the previous version we had seen. The script and songs were the same, but it was much lighter and much more enjoyable. The sets and costumes were simple, but got the job done. There was some interesting lighting and use of digital media, which was nice to see.
The entire cast was very talented. We alway really enjoy performances where young kids blow you away with their singing abilities, and this definitely fit the bill. The stand out was Danielle Valentine, who played the father, Mr. Wormwood. She embraced the gender bending role and played it to perfection. After intermission, she came out and engaged in some audience interaction before launching into a mostly solo song about all the benefits of television (the son helps out with a periodic strum of the ukulele and joined in each time the father says ‘telly’). Whether planned or not, the entire audience was laughing after Mr. Wormwood talks about all the dangers of reading only to call upon a woman who said “I’m with SMART”(Start Making a Reader Today). The ensuing interaction was perfect.
Overall, I found this production of Matilda to be much more kid-friendly than the national tour version we saw. Chicken and Nugget both enjoyed it and we listen to the Revolting Children song on repeat the whole way home. None of us can nail Bruce’s trademark note in that song, but we sure had fun trying. I am sad to report that Nugget has also been trying to master Bruce’s burp. You win some, you lose some.
If your child is a fan of the book, they will likely enjoy the play. Just be aware the story does deviate some from the book and there are some darker themes.
If you are interested in seeing the show, you can find tickets here: