Relive the magic and marvel of a childhood once lost with the critical and commercial success that is Matilda The Musical, which is set to open in Manila sooner than you think.
“But nobody else is gonna put it right for me
Nobody but me is gonna change my story
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty.”
No, this isn’t by any means a go ahead into being ill-mannered, but a reminder of what our youth essentially looked like—one replete of care, expectations, and wrought in a resolute devil-may-care attitude. It may sound like a handful, a headache, and for some, a complete nightmare, but this precocious period of our lives was where our consciousness was molded to what it is today.
Ask any young’un who spent their formative years watching the telly (you’ll understand why we’ve gone a tad British a little later on) what their favorite films in the 90s were, you’ll likely get a common denominator of flicks such as Home Alone, The Little Rascals, and the enduring empowering classic, Matilda. In the guise of childhood themes and an apparent fun and fancy free, there exists a noticeable thread of valiant courage known only to a kid. However, in the premise of navigating a coming-of-age and furthermore, a full stop at adulthood, we understandably lose our grip on a pervading sense of wonder and bravery that once-upon-a-time fully formed the backbone of our childhood.
This is perhaps why whenever an opportunity to revisit these strongholds of a time gone by comes along, we not only grab it, but we even chase it down, and dig our nails into it as if our life depended on it. As with anything once thought as gone forever, we relish this overwhelming wave of wistfulness, reliving every bit of it as much as we can, and hopefully, carry it in our pockets for the rest of our known lives. It is in the survival of these childhood stories that we truly become the person we were meant to be, even if the world got the better of us and led us astray.
It sure sounds like a lofty, life-altering situation, but it was exactly what I experienced when the chance to watch the critically acclaimed Matilda The Musical (With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin) in London’s illustrious West End presented itself.
Just as the Roald Dahl-penned story of origin, as well as of the 1996 film has taught us, age is irrelevant when it comes to taking command of our narrative and most importantly, wielding imagination when necessary. So, while we see the show primarily through the eyes of a child, it doesn’t in any way alienate the adults. Once settled in the famed Cambridge Theatre, my senses were immediately held hostage by nostalgia with an abundance of larger-than-life blocks of letters that made the waiting bearable as I craned my neck and trained my eyes for words all around. Even before the house lights dimmed and the first note was sung, my story with Matilda The Musical was already writing itself—and this was barely just the beginning.
Clever, hilarious, and ingenious, Matilda The Musical is a brilliant re-imagination of the narrative we should be well aware of by now. Despite being downtrodden by grown-ups with skewed points-of-view and maligned morals, Matilda Wormwood isn’t defeated. In fact, she clings to the stories she reads (questioning Shakespeare and Dostoevsky, no less), finding solace in it to persist and find courage in. This is the very same courage that the well-meaning adults in the material builds itself on, whether it’s simply opening that door or standing up completely for the obscene injustice masquerading as discipline in the school.
For a material that has spanned generations at this point, Matilda The Musical is an fitting update to carry over this necessary narrative to the contemporary times, and maybe even into the future. With its highs, lows, twists, and turns, the story still stands to be that emotional rollercoaster I remember it to be, this time, however, with music and dance to its name.
It is almost painfully difficult to single out standout tunes from the book of songs, but crowd favorites include the buoyant opening track Miracle, the rhythmic self-awareness of Naughty, the rousing temperament of The Smell of Rebellion, the empowering I’m Here, as well as the heart-gutting stillness of Quiet. However, it would be remiss of me to not dedicate a segment of this piece to the aching ballad, When I Grow Up. Laced in innocence, the riveting rendition of the children (who are truly the heart and soul of the show, bar none) traipses along this earnest desire to do grown up things, which we as adults often fail to see.
“I will be strong enough to carry all
the heavy things you have to haul
around with you when you’re a grown-up!
And when I grow up, when I grow up
(When I grow up)
I will be brave enough to fight the creatures
that you have to fight beneath the bed
each night to be a grown-up!”
Wrapped up in purity, this is where the tears started to give way to gravity, especially when the lyrics took on a life through contemporary dance and realized metaphors. Piercing and confident one moment, and heartfelt and gentle at a sentimental swing, Matilda The Musical schools us that imagination and empathy doesn’t fail when we grow up. Even when stacked against what is expected, these are the exact qualities that requisite in truly living. We don’t stop believing in the spectacle of the everyday, it just sometimes gets cobwebbed with the adult demands that we forget to have fun.
In the advent of revolting from the oppressed, there is nary a wisp of irony to Matilda Wormwood. Intelligent as she is emotional, she charges on to the next chapter of her life, broken free from the bonds that kept her from realizing her full potential. Therein lies the true victory of Matilda The Musical. With its soaring swirl of song, sentiment, and story, it compels you to hold on to that child in you, and never let go.
And only then will you truly grow up.
Presented by GWB Entertainment, along with GMG Productions and Virtus Live, Matilda The Musical opens at The Theatre at Solaire in March 2020. With tickets officially on sale today, you can sign up for the GMG Newsletter and be one of the first to purchase tickets to the show, plus receive a special discount. Tickets will be exclusively accessible to those who are part of the newsletter beginning November 26, 2019 from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. Tickets go on sale to the public beginning November 26, 2019 at 3:00PM. And as an added treat, the producers are launching the Tuesday Special: One price across all orchestra seats, and one price across all balcony seats.