‘Matilda the Musical’ is full of heart

"Matilda the Musical" is being performed at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) today through Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com / Photo by Joan Marcus

Reviewed by Rachel Teseneer
Times-News correspondent

   DURHAM — A small girl can do extraordinary things, even with the odds stacked against her. The wondrously magical “Matilda the Musical,” based on the beloved book by Roald Dahl, follows the life of the young, and very special, Matilda Wormwood. The show is being performed at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), through the weekend.
Matilda Wormwood (Sarah McKinley Austin) is a young girl not wanted by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood (Quinn Mattfeld and Cassie Silva, respectively) because she is smart and inconvenient. Still, Matilda’s kindness toward people and her strong spirit prevails. At school, Matilda is introduced to the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull (David Abeles) and the sweet and caring Miss Honey (Jennifer Blood). Matilda is no pushover. She doesn’t like how her life, or her story as she calls it, is working out, so she decides to take matters into her own hands and change it.
Austin, who portrayed the young genius on Tuesday’s performance, completely embodied the character of Matilda. With her beautiful and strong voice, she captured audiences’ hearts as she sung about her dreams. She was incredibly expressive on stage with her voice and her physicality. When Matilda steps on stage, she gets your attention.
Other notable performances were the Wormwoods and Miss Trunchbull, the headmistress. Mattfeld brought physical comedy to the stage as Mr. Wormwood. His crazy reactions and cartoonish form brought laughter for all. Silva also gave a committed performance as Mrs. Wormwood.
Audiences will remember her as the one with the big hair, loud voice, and love for the rumba. Abeles scared the audience almost as bad as the children with his imposing form, yet there was plenty of comedy within the character to keep younger audience members delightfully entertained.
The whole cast of Matilda all performed with the same level of energy and put their hearts into each note and dance step. The makeup, set design, and costumes were a direct reflection of the original sketches found in Dahl’s book.
“Matilda the Musical” is full of heart and showcases the unbelievable strength of the human spirit. It teaches children and adults alike the importance of perseverance. Matilda’s strong sense of justice accompanied by the ensemble of children will remind people of the magic of childhood and that it’s never too late to change one’s story.
It should be noted that the casting rotates for some characters, such as Matilda, and the names seen here are not guaranteed to be those seen by future audience members. There are some loud sound effects and bright lights that might surprise some audience members.

 Rachel Teseneer is a senior home-schooler and a Teens & Twenties writer.


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