A little girl with telekinetic powers, an evil hammer-throwing headmistress and the Russian mafia – the production of “Matilda the Musical” from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology wowed the audience with many unique technical elements, hilarious performances and sentimental moments that melted the hearts of the public.
“Matilda the Musical” is based on the 1988 children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl. The book was first adapted into a film starring Mara Wilson as the title character in 1996, and it is not that 14 years later the musical with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and the book by Dennis Kelly hit the stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company, finally making its way to the West End and Broadway.
The musical follows Matilda (Sarina Saran), a bright 5-year-old girl with a voracious love of reading, as she begins her first day of school where she meets her kind-hearted teacher, Miss Honey (Riva Jain) , and the child-hating headmistress of the school, Miss Agatha Trunchbull (Ryan Lien). Despite her stupid and often immoral parents and brother (Aafreen Ali, Gabriel Ascoli and Jack Baisch), Matilda uses her voice (and her superpowers) to unite the students and bring down Miss Trunchbull.
Saran did a wonderful job portraying the lead role. She was meticulous in her pronunciation, making her British accent one of the strongest in the series. She brought out Matilda’s innocence and wonder, which made the character much more believable, but where she really shone was in her scenes with librarian Mrs. Phelps (Hannah Frieden). Her dramatic intonation and sweeping movements created suspense as she told the story of the acrobat (Evelyne Breed) and the escapologist (Sri Vellakkat). Every time his mother, Mrs. Wormwood, walked on stage, the audience knew he was going to have a breathless laugh. With her larger than life eyelashes and fingernails as well as her heavy Essex accent, Aafreen Ali was not only hilarious but also one of the strongest singers and dancers in the production who was on full display in the “Loud” number. “. Contrasting Mrs. Wormwood’s aggressiveness, Riva Jain embodied the character of Miss Honey. The relationship she was able to establish between herself and Matilda’s class demonstrated Miss Honey’s motherly care for her students. Jain had a very sweet voice, both when performing and singing, with her song “My House” being one of the sweetest moments on the show. The show also featured strong ensemble members such as Cyrus Rivers, Micaela Wells and Alex Mather, but a truly standout performance was Ryan Lien, who played the Trunchbull. He had plenty of incredibly hilarious moments, especially when he was on all fours sniffing around to find out who ate his cake. His ability to be so funny and ridiculous while still maintaining his character was perhaps the most impressive aspect of his performance.
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s production of “Matilda the Musical” wowed audiences.