Matilda the Musical arrives at Birmingham Hippodrome and we chat to some of the cast
It’s won more than 85 international awards. Matilda The Musical is the multi-award winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the beloved book by the incomparable Roald Dahl.
With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, 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.
The show continues to delight audiences in London, Australia and on tour around the USA and a major new production will open at Birmingham Hippodrome on Tuesday, running until September 8.
It stars Craige Els, who will reprise the role of Miss Trunchbull having played her in the West End for three years between 2014 and 2017. He will be joined by Carly Thoms as Miss Honey, and Sebastien Torkia and Rebecca Thornhill as Mr and Mrs Wormwood.
Craige trained at Drama Studio London and Aberystwyth University before going on to appear in a series of hit shows. He loves playing Miss Trunchbull and is thrilled to bring it out of the West End to Birmingham.
“Baddies are always the best to play, plus I am too old to play Matilda so there is no chance there. With the role of Miss Trunchbull, I think everyone who has played it will agree that roles like that don’t come along that often, they are beautifully written characters but yet so mean and horrible that it gives you the chance to make them as real and as mean as possible but also make them entertaining at the same time. It is most definitely a wonderful and unique challenge and that’s why I have enjoyed doing it for so long. Roles like this do not come along that often.
“In the West End you get pretty much a West End crowd with a lot of tourists, so it’s nice to take the show to regional places and have local crowds come and watch it and we are in our second venue of the tour and already the crowds are loving it.”
Craige decided to get into acting as a teenager. It was a surprise to his family but they were supportive and eventually thrilled when he made a go of it.
“I decided that when I was about 15 or 16 that I wanted to do acting and it was a bit of a shock to my family because there were no drama clubs near me and my school didn’t even offer it as a subject at GCSE or A Level. For me, it came from enjoying making my friends laugh and making my mum and nan giggle on the weekends. I found that pleasure in entertaining people and I decided I wanted to pursue that. So I went to university and studied drama at Aberystwyth University for three years and then after I went and did a 1 year postgraduate at Drama Studio London where I was able to concentrate more on the practical side of it all. After that like the thousands of others, I left drama school and joined the big wide world and started to audition for things.”
Craige isn’t the only one happy that Matilda is on the road. Dennis Kelly, who wrote the show, 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, supported by smart, engaged audiences and we can’t wait to bring this crazy, messy, anarchic explosion of a show to them.”
Tim Minchin, who wrote the show’s music and lyrics, said: “I – like millions of others – feel like Roald 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.”
And Catherine Mallyon, RSC executive director, adds: “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.”
Matilda The Musical has now been seen by more than 7.7 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 more than 60 cities and has played 5,500 performances worldwide.
After winning a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Musical in 2015, the Australian and New Zealand tour has now played sold-out seasons in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Auckland. In July 2016, Matilda The Musical broke further records by winning all 13 Helpmann Awards for which it was nominated. The show will have its first non-English language production at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul, South Korea from September 2018 until February 2019.