Theater Review / Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda the Musical’ an uplifting ride for kids and adults alike 



 If ever there was a production that’s arrived just in time to improve morale for us all, it’s Roald Dahl’s “Matilda the Musical,” now playing, through Jan. 29, at the Waterfront Playhouse, in Mallory Square.

 This family-friendly extravaganza is just the ticket to banish the Covid blues, and put smiles on faces – for a couple hours, anyway.

 As the name suggests, “Matilda” springs from the mind of much-beloved children’s author Roald Dahl, who first published the novel in 1988. And like his previous works “James and the Giant Peach,” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Matilda” is chock full of the cheeky kids, preposterous and phony adults, and warm underlying sentiments that made his earlier books such a place of refuge for young readers.

 There’s nothing democratic about where or to whom one is born, as the play’s eponymous heroine, (ably portrayed by Samara MacDonald,) discovers in a hurry. Her parents are the absolute pits!

They’re gifted with a precocious, intellectual child who loves to read and tell stories – and they hate her for it.

 All that matters to Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, (gleefully portrayed by Lauren Thompson and Mathias Maloff respectively), is ill-gotten lucre, looking “good” for one’s extramarital “dance partner,” and most especially – what’s on the “telly.”

 “I’m So Clever,” the green-haired and venal Wormwood pere brays as he prepares to flim-flam a gaggle of Russian mobsters on a car deal a child could see through,. And Matilda does.

Dressed in a fetching ’70s disco suit that would make Herb Tarlek jealous, Mr. Wormwood may not realize what he’s got in his little girl – or even that she’s a girl at all. Still he’s quantum leaps ahead of his vapid, tawdry wife and his touched actual son, Michael (Ervin Tumm.)

 Luckily for Matilda, her dopey folks eventually do have to get her an education, which will send her out away from the unhappy household. Unluckily, it’s a strict English grammar school, headed by the dreaded Miss Trunchbull, (hilariously portrayed by David Black) who hates all kids, especially the smart ones. “Clots,” she considers them. “foul carbuncles.”

 Luckily again, Matilda makes fast pals with the kindly librarian,  Mrs. Phelps (Barbara Mundy). And most importantly, she discovers a bond with her teacher, the earnest but timid Miss Honey, (brought to life by the talented Jessica Miano Kruel.)

 Light years ahead of her classmates scholastically, Matilda, who possesses telekinetic powers, instead concocts stories that help her escape the madness. The tales bring delight to the lonely Mrs. Phelps and the ever-encouraging Miss Honey.

 As she and her mischievous fellow students try to survive Miss Trunchbull and her legendary “chokey” punishments, will Matilda ever free herself from the clutches of the evil adults in her life? And what of the unfortunate Miss Honey, with her mysterious past? Can she join forces with Matilda to solve all their common problems?

With so many enthusiastic contributions from this talented cast of kids and adults, there simply isn’t room here to credit them all. But Director Tom Thayer; Designer Michael Boyer; Musical Director Nancy 3 Hoffman, choreographers Penny Leto, Lauren Thompson, and Joshua Lawson definitely deserve credit for setting the table just right for the actors. And for bringing to life the music and lyrics of Tim Minchin and book by Dennis Kelley.

Know a super kid – or kid at heart – who could use a break from the madness of reality  around us? “Matilda The Musical” may be just the ticket! 

“Matilda The Musical” runs through Jan. 29 at the Waterfront Playhouse, 407 Wall St., in Mallory Square. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, patrons are requested to bring proof of vaccination, and wear a face mask during the performance.

For tickets or more information, call 305-394-7445. Or visit

 Terry Schmida is a Key West writer and an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Knight & Gardner Realty. Contact him at 305-896-3387 or [email protected]

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