Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

Matilda the Musical
National Tour
Review by David Ritchey

Sarah McKinley Austin, Lily Brooks O'Briant,
and Savannah Grace Elmer

Photo by Brian Tietz
Matilda the Musical breaks all of my personal rules about musicals (or any type of production). First, I have to hear the words the actors speak. Unfortunately, many of the actors in Matilda the Musical muddle their lines. The director has several jobs in the run of a touring production—one of the most important is making sure the cast is speaking in bright, clear speech.

Second, this show is a musical. Unfortunately, the music and lyrics are terrible. I couldn't remember any melody or any lyrics. The story surely merited better music and lyrics.

Some of the actors seem to be in at least two different plays. Cassie Silva and Quinn Mattfeld (Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood) shout their lines—but they can be heard and understood.

David Abeles plays the cross-dressed Miss Trunchbull, who won a medal at the Olympics throwing the discus. Trunchbull bullies the students in the school scenes, making their lives miserable. Abeles can be heard but not always understood.

The writers made these characters bullies. I suspect if we go back to Roald Dahl's novel we'll discover a number of characters who are bullies.

In the other play we'd find Jennifer Blood (Miss Honey), Sarah McKinley Austin (Matilda), and Ors Jones (Mrs. Phelps) giving more realistic performances.

The production is unsatisfactory. I was seated on a side aisle. At intermission, the nine people who filled the row in front of me left. Four people left the row in front of those nine empty seats. I'm an eternal optimist—I hoped the production would improve after the intermission. I'm sad to say nothing improved.

The only bright spot is Sarah McKinley Austin. She can sing, dance, and deliver her lines with emotional clarity. She's a child. Couldn't the adults in the show learn from her?

Matilda the Musical at The State Theatre through May 22. For tickets, call 216-241-6000 or 800-546-1353. For more information on the tour, visit

Based on the book by Roald Dahl
Book: Dennis Kelly
Music and Lyrics: Tim Minchin
Choreography: Peter Darling
Associate Choreographies: Ellen Kane (Worldwide) and Kate Dunn (U. S.)
Director: Matthew Warchus
Associate Director: Thomas Caruso
Resident Director: Ryan Emmons
Musical Director: Matthew Smedal
Set and Costume Design: Rob Howell
Lighting Design: Hugh Vanstone

Cast: Party Entertainer: Michael Graceffa
Doctor: Justin Packard
Mrs. Wormwood: Cassie Silva
Mr. Wormwood: Quinn Mattfeld
Matilda: Sarah McKinley Austin
Michael Wormwood: Tony d'Alelio
Mrs. Phelps: Ora Jones
Miss Honey: Jennifer Blood
The Escape Artist: Justin Packard
The Acrobat: Ashley Elizabeth Hale
Miss Trunchbull: David Abeles
Rudolpho: Michael Graceffa
Sergei: Eric Craig
Bruce: Ryan Christopher Dever
Lavender: Charles Kersh
Nigel: Will Coombs
Amanda: Austyn Johnson
Eric: Aristotle Rock
Alice: Cassidy Hagel
Hortensia: Megan McGuff
Tommy: Jordan Hall
Other parts played by: Esther Antoine, Cameron Burke, Michael D. Jablonski, Kim Sava and Darius Wright

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