MATILDA presented by Broadway in Cincinnati through April 16. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening Wednesday performance.
Kids take center stage in a not-so-kid-friendly production of MATILDA at the Aronoff Center. Not much is bright and cheerful in her world, so think more along the lines of A Series of Unfortunate Events than Annie for the tone of the show.
In Wednesday’s performance, Jaime MacLean is a force to be reckoned with as the incredibly smart and wise-beyond-her-years title character. Serving as her classmates and partners in crime are Soren Miller as Bruce, Gabby Beredo as Lavender, Jacob Anderson as Nigel, Isabella Stuebing as Amanda, Abigail Nicholson as Eric, Molly Richardson as Alice, Talia Cosentino as Hortensia & Heidi Friese as Tommy. The entire children’s ensemble is amazingly talented and handled their roles and the energetic choreography extremely well.
For the adults roles, the comedy skews a bit broad to keep the show from becoming too dark. Matilda’s family consists of Darcy Stewart as her wardrobe-challenged, dance-obsessed mother; Matt Harrington as her deal-making, shyster father; and Darren Burkett as her monosyllabic brother. In addition to the adults that make up the family, Dan Chameroy is hilarious as the androgynous former hammer-thrower and current headmistress, Miss Trunchbull.
Thankfully there are a couple of adults who are on Matlida’s side. As her teacher, Miss Honey, Jennifer Bowles is spot on as she struggles with her insecurities for the sake of her brilliant student. I also found Keisha T. Fraser easily likable and endearing as Mrs. Phelps, the librarian who served as the audience of one for Matilda’s stories.
I very much enjoyed the stylized look of the costumes and set. The choreography was well-staged and well-executed. The timing of the use of the blocks in School Song was a personal favorite.
The big (and only) disappointment of the production was the sound. There was a tinny-ness to it that worked against the quality of the young actors’ voices, especially in the group numbers. The lyrics for Revolting Children were almost completely lost to me.
Overall a fun and energetic show for the child in all of us, but not so much for young children. While the recommendation is for ages six and up, if the child can’t sit through a full-length (2.5 hours with intermission) show, you may want to wait the show’s return to Cincinnati.
My rating: 4.75 out of 5
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