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Confessions of a Teenage Theater Geek: Matilda | BANG.

Confessions of a Teenage Theater Geek: Matilda


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Oh my god. Oh. My. God. It almost feels wrong to declare this right now, but I’m pretty sure I’ve already found my favorite show of the new Broadway season.

gavel2Roald Dahl was practically my homeboy in elementary school. I was obsessed with all of his books, but one that stands out most notably is Matilda. Matilda is a little girl with an oversized mind that often gets her into trouble. In addition to being the smartest five-year-old  in the world, she also has a few “special” powers that help her escape her terrible family and her school’s positively evil headmistress, Agatha Trunchbull.

The movie was one of my favorites back in my days of awkwardly-cut bangs and elastic-waistband jeans (I never said I was a good-looking child by any means). I was beyond excited when I found out that London’s West End – or as I like to call it “Broadway for Brits” – was trying out a new stage version of this classic story about a pint-sized heroine.

Let me tell you – the American version was far from disappointing. In fact, it was the exact opposite. At the end of the show I was actually surprised to find myself crying through my cheers and applause. The show

SO. CUTE. CAN'T HOLD BACK TEARS. Photo courtesy of Randall.Moore/Flickr

SO. CUTE. CAN'T HOLD BACK TEARS.
Photo courtesy of Randall.Moore/Flickr

itself was not sad enough to bring on tears, but rather I was so overcome with awe and pride watching these talented young children living out their dreams that my subconscious immediately demanded that I weep. Mind you, I’m the type of unpredictable emotional wreck who could cry at the sight of corgi puppies. Still, this show was absolutely magical.

The children in this show were quite honestly the most talented young actors and actresses I have ever seen in my life. I’m pretty sure the only words I could squeak out of my mouth were, “Holy *insert expletive here*.” They hit every beat of the extremely intricate choreography with so much force and precision that my jaw dropped so hard it made it all the way from my seat in the Mezzanine all the way to the Orchestra floor.

Speaking of, look at this set! Unreal! Photo by Samantha Costanza/Gavel Media

Speaking of, look at this set! Unreal!
Photo by Samantha Costanza/Gavel Media

Photo courtesy of LDNISTA/Flickr

Photo courtesy of LDNISTA/Flickr

Another absolute superstar in this musical was the man who played Miss Trunchbull. No, that wasn’t a typo. The hunchbacked, wart-covered headmistress was played by a skinny British man, and he was phenomenal. Bertie Carvel originated the role of Trunchbull in London, and he was so perfect that Broadway clearly couldn’t let him slip away so they shipped him right over the pond, earning him rave reviews on American soil and a Tony nomination for Best Leading Actor in a musical.

His portrayal of Trunchbull was positively inspired. One of the best moments in the movie Matilda is when Trunchbull grabs a little girl by the pigtails and swings her like an Olympic hammer throw. “How could they possibly do that on stage?” you ask. “That poor girl would get her wig – or worse, her hair – ripped right off of her head!” Well guess what, skeptics? They did it. And it was sick.

Want to know something cooler? The little pigtailed girl is from Pleasantville, New York. Do you know who else is from Pleasantville? You’re reading her blog right now.

The itty-bitty prodigee is named Beatrice Tulchin, and she is my new idol. Whoever said role models have to be older than you? This little superstar is living out all of my dreams, and she hasn’t even graduated middle school. I would get angry out of sheer jealousy but I’m so impressed by her talent that I can’t even pretend to be mad. Although I don’t know her personally, I know her older brother and sister and happened to run into her mother recently, barely stopping to breathe as I gushed about how breathtakingly incredible her daughter is.

The little girl who played Matilda was also an absolute treasure. The role is split between four different children who rotate performances (something silly about child labor laws or whatever). My particular Matilda was a tiny firecracker with a killer voice. Also, the boy who played Bruce – the chubby kid who has to eat an entire chocolate cake – was a boss. Seriously. I want to shake his hand and congratulate him on his general awesomeness.

I really can’t say enough good things about the children in this show – if I keep going I might start crying again and I’m an ugly-crier so you really don’t want to see that. Overall, this show was a stroke of brilliance. A true theatrical masterpiece. If it doesn’t win Best Musical at the Tony’s this Sunday I’m prepared to go full preschooler and throw a tantrum.

Matilda is currently playing at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway.

P.S. Unfortunately, I won’t be blogging for the next two weeks because I’ll be taking a page from the lovely Jenna LaConte’s book and journeying to the beautiful country of Italy! I know it’s painful. Try to hold back your tears. But I’ll be back sooner than you can say “break a leg!” I would say try not to miss me too much but that would just be silly – I want you to miss me. I’ll miss you. Therefore it’s only fair that you return the favor.

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Samantha Costanza