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Photo credit: Matilda the Musical (Photo by Manuel Harlan)

Everything you need to know about Matilda the Musical in London

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Matilda the Musical is one of Britain's biggest musicals of the 21st century. Adapted from the Roald Dahl novel, audiences have taken Matilda Wormwood's David and Goliath inspired story into their hearts. The Royal Shakespeare Company musical has now been seen worldwide, but there's nowhere that brings Crunchem Hall to life quite like the West End.

With a book by Dennis Kelly and original music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, Matilda captures the essence of an innocent schoolkid with the wit and cleverness to match. Having ran at the Cambridge Theatre for almost a decade, it's one of London's longest-running musicals still in the capital.

Here's our complete guide to the West End production of Matilda, with Matilda the Musical tickets available on LondonTheatre.co.uk.

What is Matilda the Musical about?

At the start of the show, audiences meet Matilda Wormwood. She's a young schoolkid with a thirst for knowledge; everything she sees, hears and reads about is an opportunity to learn. Sadly, her desire to better her mind isn't met by her vacuous parents, who rarely talk to her. Attending Crunchem Hall, she finally meets someone who she looks up to — her teacher Miss Honey. The school isn't filled with Miss Honey's though. Miss Trunchbull rules the roost and you can't miss her. Trying to save the day, Matilda and Miss Honey overthrow the system, creating a brand new world for them.

Matilda the Musical (Photo by Manuel Harlan)

When did Matilda the Musical premiere?

The world premiere of Matilda the Musical was held at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. At first, Matilda played for a limited engagement, with performances from 9 Nov. 2010 - 30 Jan. 2011, however its first three months made such an impression, a West End transfer was quickly announced. 

The West End premiere of Matilda the Musical was on 25 Oct. 2011 at the Cambridge Theatre, where Matilda continues to run today. After a month of previews, the official opening night came on 24 Nov. 2011, and the show is in its tenth year of London performances.

The Broadway production of Matilda the Musical came nearly two years after the first performances. Performances began at the Shubert Theatre on 4 Mar. 2013, with an opening night on 11 Apr. 2013. After 1,555 performances, the production closed on New Year's Day in 2017. Productions of Matilda the Musical have also premiered in Australia, Korea, South Africa, the Philippines and China.

Who wrote Matilda the Musical?

The Matilda the Musical story is adapted from Roald Dahl's children novel of the same name. Numerous Roald Dahl publications have been told on stage, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was staged at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Dennis Kelly adapted Matilda for the stage, making his West End playwriting debut for the production. More recently, he's written plays for the Royal Court Theatre, including The Ritual Slaughter of Gorge Mastromas and Girls & Boys.

Who wrote the songs in Matilda the Musical?

Music and lyrics in Matilda the Musical is by Tim Minchin, an Australian comic and musician. As part of his comedy act, he'll often include musical elements. But, Matilda marked a sharp turn to West End theatre. Since Matilda, Minchin has played Judas in a national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as writing the music and lyrics for the Olivier Award-winning musical Groundhog Day.

Cast of Matilda the Musical (Photo by Manuel Harlan)

Who is in the cast of Matilda the Musical?

The role of Matilda will be shared by Imogen Cole, Alyssa D'Souza, Alex Munden and Zoe Simon. Elliot Harper returns to Matilda to play Miss Trunchbull, with Carly Thoms taking over the role of Miss Honey.  Sebastien Torkia will play Mr Wormwood, with Annette McLaughlin as Mrs Wormwood, Landi Oshinowo as Mrs Phelps, Matt Krzan as Rudolpho and Connor Lewis as Michael Wormwood. The adult cast is completed by Liberty Buckland, Georgia Carling, Roger Dipper, Katrina Dix, Kate Kenrick, Ben Kerr, Tom Mather, Bryan Mottram, Kane Oliver Parry, Ryan Pidgen, James Revell, Gemma Scholes and Dawn Williams.

The children's cast is completed by Hari Aggarwal, Thommy Bailey Vine, Kieron Bell, Tom Bonomini, Kaspar Cahill-Ritter, Sienna Clarke, Drew Edwards, Robyn Elwell, Rory Finnegan, Rosie Gell-Marquez, Beth Gilmour, Louie Gray, Gracie Hodson-Prior, Darcy Kelly, Ben Lee, Keanna-Skye O'Quinn, Nicholas Parris, Bella Perdoni, Chancé Quaye, Scarlett Jayne Rackham, Bren Reilly, Niamh Ritchie, Jacob Savva, Jayden Seder and Alex Stockton.

What theatre in London is Matilda the Musical playing at?

Matilda the Musical is currently at the Cambridge Theatre, where it has continuously played since its London opening. Typically a musical playhouse, previous shows at the Cambridge Theatre include Chicago, Jerry Springer - The Opera and Fame.

What is the running time of Matilda the Musical?

The Matilda the Musical running time is 2 hours and 40 minutes, including a 15 minute interval.

What are the songs in Matilda the Musical?

Matilda the Musical features an original soundtrack by Tim Minchin, drawing on Roald Dahl's work. Stand-out songs include "Naughty" sung by Matilda, as well as the full company on stage in "When I Grow Up" and "Revolting Children." Here's a full list of songs in Matilda the Musical.

Act 1

"Miracle" - Children, Teacher/Party Entertainer, Doctor, Mrs. Wormwood, Mr. Wormwood, Matilda, Company
"Naughty" - Matilda
"School Song" - Ensemble
"Pathetic" - Miss Honey
"The Hammer" - Miss Trunchbull, Miss Honey, Children
"Loud" - Mrs. Wormwood, Rudolpho, Ensemble
"This Little Girl" - Miss Honey
"Bruce" - Company

Act 2

"Telly" - Mr. Wormwood, Michael
"When I Grow Up" - Children, Miss Honey, Matilda, Company
"Story 4: I'm Here" - Matilda, Escapologist
"The Smell of Rebellion" - Miss Trunchbull, Children
"Quiet" - Matilda
"My House" - Miss Honey, Escapologist
"Revolting Children" - Children, Ensemble
"When I Grow Up" (reprise) - Company
"Naughty" (reprise II) - Company 

What are the reviews of Matilda the Musical?

Matilda the Musical received unanimous approval all around, with critics praising the musical's ingenuity. In Lyn Gardner's review for The Guardian: "If anything, it is actually richer than Dahl's novel. It captures all the original's delicious nastiness... but it also celebrates the solace of books and the transforming powers of the imagination." In fact, The Telegraph's Charles Spencer said: "It is the best new British musical since Billy Elliot." 

Matilda the Musical (Photo by Manuel Harlan)

What awards has Matilda the Musical won?

Matilda the Musical broke Olivier Awards history when nominations were announced. The production was nominated in all ten categories it was eligible for, with the Broadway production also impressing award voters. Here's all the major awards that Matilda has won.

Olivier Awards

Best New Musical 
Best Actor in a Musical - Bertie Carvel
Best Actress in a Musical - Cleo Demetriou, Kerry Ingram, Eleanor Worthington Cox, Sophia Kiely
Best Director - Matthew Warchus
Best Theatre Choreographer - Peter Darling
Best Set Design - Rob Howell
Best Sound Design - Simon Baker

Tony Awards

Best Book of a Musical - Dennis Kelly
Best Featured Actor in a Musical - Gabriel Ebert
Best Scenic Design of a Musical - Rob Howell
Best Lighting Design of a Musical - Hugh Vanstone
Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre - Sophia Gennusa, Oona Lawrence, Bailey Ryan, Milly Shapiro

Is there a movie adaptation of Matilda the Musical?

As well as the 1996 Matilda film starring Danny DeVito and Mara Wilson, a new Matilda film adaptation is in the works. Unlike the first film, the new movie is directly based on the musical.

11-year-old Dubliner Alisha Weir will play the title schoolgirl, joined by Emma Thompson as Miss Trunchbull and Lashana Lynch as Miss Honey. More information on the new Matilda the Musical film can be found here

What are some fun facts about Matilda the Musical?

Matilda the Musical is one of the most successful British musicals to have transferred to Broadway.

Each performance uses a lot of confetti. Annually, approximately 12 million pieces are flown into the faces of West End audiences.

Shakespeare once wrote "Though she be but little, she is fierce..." and that's definitely true for Matilda Wormwood. Standing at 4 feet 4 inches, Matilda is the smallest leading lady in the West End.

How do I get tickets for Matilda the Musical in London?

Matilda the Musical performances are currently scheduled at the Cambridge Theatre from 16 September.

Matilda the Musical tickets are available now.

Photo credit: Matilda the Musical (Photo by Manuel Harlan)

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