Matilda

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Writer Nikki Cotter

Much anticipation has surrounded the arrival of Matilda to Manchester’s Palace Theatre as part of its first ever UK tour. Based on the much-loved story by arguably the world’s greatest children’s writer, Roald Dahl, the show has been seen by over 8 million people worldwide; within minutes of the opening number starting it is abundantly clear why.

Upon entering the theatre the set immediately impresses, blocks of wooden and coloured letters with shelf after shelf of books adorn the stage as the cast burst into life with opening number Miracle. Tim Minchin’s music and lyrics are packed with witty cynicism, sharp observation and glorious mischief from first note to last as this fast paced, addictive musical draws you in.

Tonight Sophie Ally takes on the role of Matilda, the unfortunate child saddled with the dimmest and least loving parents in the world. While Matilda wows with her brilliance the woeful Wormwoods are too busy scratching their stupid heads to notice. It is at school she finds her outlet as Miss Honey attempts to cultivate her clever little mind despite the fearsome Miss Trunchbull’s attempts to thwart them.

Sophie Ally makes for a magnificent Matilda, quietly confident and bursting with talent she is the perfect blend of mischief, magic and fearsome might. Her full standing ovation at the finale entirely deserved.

Craig Els reprises his West End role as the towering Miss Trunchbull to great comedic effect. His physical comedy is sensational, embodying the gargantuan villain entirely evoking roars of laughter as well as teeny, tiny, terrified nervous giggles from the audience as he struts menacingly round the stage. He looms large over his students, suspicious about everything and everyone, his insults stinging with hilarious outrage.

As Matilda’s parents the Wormwoods, Rebecca Thornhill and Sebastien Torkia the larger than life cartoonish characters are as grotesquely gaudy as Roald Dahl imagined them, selfish and simple but enormously entertaining they both give a star turn in demonstrating everything a parent shouldn’t be via their hilariously outlandish actions.

The true starts of the show are of course the ensemble of incredibly talented children who deliver Peter Darlings choreography with punchy precision. Their joyful enthusiasm is soaked up by every member of the audience, hitting a magnificent climax in the final number, the utterly addictive Revolting Children. Through scene after scene the sheer talent on stage renders you speechless, enthralled and desperate for more. The now iconic swing scene during When I Grow Up is heart-warming and beautifully effective in its childlike innocence and impressive staging.

Matilda is one of those uniquely brilliant shows which don’t come around very often. Every piece of the puzzle fits perfectly together from Tim Minchin’s magnificent music and lyrics to Dennis Kelly’s razor-sharp book. Matilda captures the hope and joy in celebrating and embracing difference, being who you want to be even and standing up for what you believe in…even if that means you have to be a little bit naughty. This RSC production evokes wonderfully one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotes, ‘And though she be but little, she is fierce’.

Powerful, punchy and utterly perfect, grab a ticket immediately!

Matilda is on at the Palace Theatre until Saturday 24th November, tickets available here.

RSC | Hamlet

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Opening Night Verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

From it’s opening scenes showing Hamlet receiving his degree at Wittenberg University, it’s clear that the RSC are offering something very different, director Simon Godwin has painted this version of Hamlet with glorious technicolour and focuses firmly on a Prince who feels displaced, an outcast amongst his own people.

Making history back in 2016 when Paapa Essiedu became the first black actor to play Hamlet at the RSC he is undoubtedly the heart of this production with director Simon Godwin very much shaping it around him. Essiedu is of Ghanaian descent which has been used to influence the piece and shifted the coordinates offering a rich and absorbing West African flavour. Ripped away from his overseas education due to the death of his Father, Hamlet is struggling not only with his grief but also with a feeling of dislocation from his people as well as a confusion at the swiftness in which his mother has remarried. Seeing the haunting ghost of his dead father impacts him enormously, from here he begins a powerful psychological unravelling as he bids to seek revenge upon his uncle Claudius who murdered his father before stealing not only the throne but also Hamlet’s own mother for his wife. In Hamlet’s bid to expose the truth, lives and loves are lost as almighty tragedies unfold.

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Essiedu is a revelation as Hamlet, sardonic and unpredictable, charismatic and incredibly witty; he devours Shakespeare’s words and delivers them as if they were his own. His commanding presence fills the Lowry’s expansive Lyric theatre entirely, this riveting and contemporary Prince of Denmark is playful and beguiling with a unsettling element of danger that’s fascinating to watch. He questions, dissects, flips the expected on it’s head and offers an entirely new Hamlet.

This critically-acclaimed RSC production feels incredibly fresh, unlike any Hamlet I’ve seen before. The cultural richness and sheer brilliance of the ensemble brings an entirely new spin on this Shakespeare classic while playful, exuberant choreography casts light on the shade on Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy. While there is intensity there is also great humour with sharp performances from gossipy chief counsellor to the King, Polonius (Joseph Mydell) and matter of fact, take-each-day-as-it comes Gravedigger, Ewart James Walters. Mimi Ndiweni makes for a heartbreakingly tragic Ophelia partnered beautifully with a touching and honest performance from brother Laertes (Buom Tihngang).

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The vibrancy of designer Paul Wills staging breathes further life into this ground-breaking production, the staging reflecting the state of Hamlets grieving and maddening mind. Lighting designer Paul Anderson succeeds magnificently, from the hauntingly atmospheric to the blisteringly bold every scene lit to perfection and recreated for this tour by Matt Peel.

Part tragedy, park dark comedy Hamlet is a drum-thumping, high-energy, intoxicating triumph of theatre. The contemporary twist, perfectly paced & honest performances ensure the RSC succeed in delivering Shakespeare in an accessible and wholly captivating way. Paapa Essiedu captures not only the heart and soul of the character but makes the text seem new and original. I struggled to find any fault in this daring & dynamic production which will stay with me for some time. Inspired and inspiring theatre at its finest.

On at The Lowry until Saturday 3rd February tickets available here.

Matilda to visit Manchester!

Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan MAT 14.3-242

As part of a newly announced UK and Ireland tour, the Royal Shakespeare Company will visit Manchester’s Palace Theatre with their multi award-winning production Matilda The Musical, for an impressive 10-week run from Monday 18th September-Friday 24th November 2018.

Tickets for Manchester will go on-sale to the public on Wednesday 26 April following a priority booking period between Wednesday 19 – Tuesday 25 April. 

Winner of 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, the RSC’s touring production of Matilda The Musical will open at Leicester Curve, playing from 5 March 2018 and will also visit Dublin, Sunderland, Milton Keynes, Birmingham and Cardiff with further dates and locations still to be announced in due course.

The production will be accompanied by a new education programme to engage young people, inspired by Matilda The Musical. From a travelling library of stories led by Mrs. Phelps, to whole school takeovers of Matilda, the RSC aims to reach over 15,000 children, in collaboration with touring theatre partners. Further details to be announced.

Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan MAT 09.09.16-253 Small

Dennis Kelly, (book) said: “It’s been a long time coming but I’m delighted that we get to take Matilda around the UK and to Ireland. We have some fantastic theatres in this country and in Ireland, supported by smart, engaged audiences and we can’t wait to bring this crazy, messy, anarchic explosion of a show to them.”

 Tim Minchin, (music and lyrics) said: “I – like millions of others – feel like Dahl is in my blood, because I grew up with his books. So to have contributed to a piece of work that brings one of his most famous stories to life is one of my life’s great joys. I’m utterly thrilled that audiences in cities all across the UK and Ireland will now share and be part of Matilda’s story.

Catherine Mallyon, RSC Executive Director said: “We are thrilled our home-grown miracle, which started life after a seven year gestation in Stratford-upon-Avon, has grown into a bit of a global phenomenon. Following Matilda’s successful run on Broadway, our current tours around North America, Australia and New Zealand, and continuing into our sixth year at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End, it is fantastic that we can share Matilda with audiences around the UK and in Ireland. In collaboration with our touring partners we will also deliver a programme of ground-breaking interactive education projects to enable young people to emulate Matilda, sharing the extraordinary power of story-telling and the boundless creativity of their imaginations.”

Royal Shakespeare Company's Matilda The Musical. Credit Manuel Harlan MAT 11.09.15-99

Now in its sixth year in London’s West End, Matilda The Musical is the longest running production at the Cambridge Theatre where it continues to play to packed houses. With book by Dennis Kelly, original songs by Tim Minchin and direction by Matthew Warchus, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Inspired by the incomparable Roald Dahl’s beloved book, Matilda The Musical was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and premiered at the RSC’s The Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2010, before transferring to London’s West End in October 2011, where it opened to rave reviews.

Matilda The Musical has been seen by more than 6.5 million people worldwide. Having swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking seven awards, and winning four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway, Matilda The Musical has now played in 50 cities worldwide and continues to delight audiences in London, Australia and on tour around North America.

 

TOUR Listings

 

Leicester Curve

Monday 5 – Saturday 24 March 2018

Box Office: 0116 242 3595

www.curveonline.co.uk

 

Dublin Bord Gais Energy Theatre

Wednesday 4 – Saturday 28 April 2018

Box Office: +353 (1) 677 7999

www.bordgaisenergytheatre.ie

 

Sunderland Empire Theatre

Tuesday 8 May – Saturday 2 June 2018

Box Office: 0844 871 3022*

www.atgtickets.com/venues/sunderland-empire

 

Milton Keynes Theatre

Tuesday 5 – Saturday 30 June 2018

Box Office: 0844 871 7652*

www.atgtickets.com/venues/milton-keynes-theatre

 

Birmingham Hippodrome

Tuesday 3 July – Saturday 8 September 2018

Box Office: 0844 338 5000**

www.birminghamhippodrome.com

 

Manchester Palace Theatre

Tuesday 18 September – Saturday 24 November 2018

Box Office: 0844 871 3019*

www.atgtickets.com/venues/palace-theatre-manchester

 

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff / Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru

Tuesday 4 December 2018 – Saturday 12 January 2019

Box Office: 029 2063 6464

www.wmc.org.uk

 

Much Ado About Nothing – Opera House

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Now that we have witnessed the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Edward Bennett electrocuted inside a giant Christmas tree, the festive season can officially begin!
What better way to mark the conclusion of 2016 – and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death – than with two of the Bard’s best-loved comedies, played on consecutive nights at the Opera House Manchester, with the same cast?
Director Christopher Luscombe and production manager Paul Hennessey’s grand experiment examines the long-rumoured synergies between Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing – setting them in the same country estate (modelled on Charlecote Park, near Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon) and bookmarking them in summer and winter, before and after the Great War. 
Both deliver a witty, sparring couple; a supporting cast of characters that include a policeman, a curate and many domestic servants; masked encounters between lovers; and – one of Shakespeare’s favourite devices – endless cases of mistaken identity. 
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Associate director Guy Unsworth concludes that Shakespeare ‘deliberately shows us two sides of the same coin’ and ‘does indeed want us to view them as an extended double-bill’… Mark thee well!
Anon – immersing ourselves in Much Ado About Nothing’s wintry scenes on a cold Mancunian night – we encounter fast-talking, resolutely single bachelorette Beatrice (Lisa Dillon), who declares: ‘I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me’. The equally marriage-adverse Benedick (Edward Bennett) has just returned from the war, yet it is Beatrice’s quick-fire degradations of his character – spoken at a masked dance – that leave him mortally wounded. 
Their union seems doomed until their eavesdropping antics reveal a surprising fact… they are each madly in love with the other. These revelatory conversations – staged by Benedick and Beatrice’s family and friends, for their benefit – are some of the funniest scenes in the production. Bennett’s comedic antics inside the family Christmas tree solicit great guffaws of appreciation from the audience; it feels inevitable when he breaks the fourth wall – dissolving into barely suppressed laughter himself.  
In another plot, Beatrice’s cousin Hero (Rebecca Collingwood), who radiates chastity and goodness, is due to be married to besotted Claudio (Tunji Kasim); however, he jilts her at the altar when her name is sullied by an accusation of infidelity. With Beatrice and Benedict’s – and Hero and Claudio’s – unions both hanging in the balance, could it be that all hopes rest on hapless constable Dogberry (Nick Haverson) riding to the rescue?
Gripped in a fit of body spasms and crashing around the set, it feels as though he is perilously close to tumbling from the stage; Haverson gives every fibre of his being to the slapstick comedic stylings of Dogberry. Along with Lisa Dillon, his performance is a highlight among the sublime cast – assembled by Gabrielle Dawes and Helena Palmer.  
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Designer Simon Higlett has created a sumptuous Christmas card-style stage – rich, festive and twinkling. His team seamlessly interchange between the house and its grounds by virtue of a large sliding truck and the sub-stage trap. It’s as ingenious as it is beautiful – complemented by Melody Wood’s sumptuous period costumes that brilliantly encapsulate fashion on the cusp of the 1920s. 
This is the second time that composer Nigel Hess has scored the two plays for the RSC, but with exception of a couple of affection quotes, he has revisited them again with completely new music. To further explore the cohesion between the comedies, he uses musical cross-references between the two productions. It’s a triumph, with nuances that complement the on-stage gusto and frivolity to perfection. 
Christmas is a season of laughter and good cheer – and you will find both in these sparkling, immaculate productions by one of our nation’s greatest treasures: the Royal Shakespeare Company. 
Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing are on at Opera House Manchester until Saturday, 3 December.