If you just happen to be in New York, of course you are going to catch the latest shows on Broadway. If you are a Tim Minchin fan, and your grand daughter's name just happens to be Mathilda with an 'h', of course Matilda the Musical will be your first choice. My husband and I are arch conservatives, so we proceeded to do something that went right against the grain. We purchased tickets from a SCALPER in Times Square! Heaven forbid.
We then proceeded to spend the next few hours leading up to the performance wondering if those tickets were kosher. Fortunately they were, and a very enjoyable time was had by all judging by the audience reaction. This came as quite a surprise, as the majority of comments from the general public in The New York Times, which I researched prior to our departure, were negative. One cynic attributed the standing ovations to folk feeling they had to justify spending so much money on their tickets.
Ali wasted no time in telling some of her fellow theatre goers that the music and lyrics were by an Australian whose work was nominated for a Tony award. Not surprisingly, most had never heard of our Tim Minchin, with the NY Times critic describing his contribution as Britpop! In the nicest possible way of course. What a pity they could not hear all of his insightful lyrics. Minchin's Miracle is a prime example of his ability to satirize the human condition. Having been told how wonderful they are, and given so much freedom as preschoolers, children are then required to fit into the boxes that schooling demands of them. Maybe this is the cause of today's rush to embrace home schooling.
There were so many criticisms of inability to distinguish lyrics when I read The New York Times reviews by theatre-goers, I wonder why this problem was not addressed. I can attune my hearing to most accents (even those US ones), but I'm wondering if the sound system was at fault here. However, it did not prevent me from having Naughty as an earworm for days afterwards, as well as When I Grow Up. This problem emanated mainly from the child players, particularly when singing in chorus. The adults presented with fewer difficulties.
However, adults and children alike captured the essence of their characters brilliantly. Matilda, played on the night by Sophia Gennusa, one of four Matildas, played the modest child genius with an ability beyond her nine years, and Bertie Carvel, as Miss Trunchbull, played a school child's worst nightmare. He came across as pantomime's Widow Twankey with evil intent. Many of the cast were directly from the Royal Shakespeare Company's Stratford-on-Avon and London productions.
Matilda certainly caught the Dahl spirit, and I hope it is not long before it makes an appearance in Australia. Previous Australian productions such as Annie , also currently on Broadway, prove we can gather up a huge array of children's talent from our comparatively meagre population.