Cappies Review: Patapsco’s “Matilda the Musical”

Emily Allgair, Guest Writer, Severna Park

What do you get when you cross bright smiles, a completely inhumane torture device, and a heartwarming tale of a little girl who loves to learn? “Matilda the Musical” at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, of course!

Based on the book by Roald Dahl,  “Matilda the Musical” tells the story of Matilda Wormwood, her telekinetic powers, and her ability to work her way to a better life. With quirky characters, catchy songs, and a beautiful message, it is no doubt that the stage adaptation of this story has won five Tony Awards and seven Olivier Awards, including one for Best New Musical.

Although most of the humor of this show lies in its script, the actors of this production went a step further. Rebecca Halcott (Miss Trunchbull) and her extremely animated facial expressions created situation comedy that complemented the simplicity of the school kids’ humor. Halcott truly committed to the absurd aspect of this show. Especially in the iconic scene with the pigtails, Halcott fully embodied the essence of Miss Trunchbull. Another crowd-favorite was Wyn Wyatt (Mrs. Wormwood). She portrayed the sassy, bold, and, of course, loud dancer with just the spunk the character was written to have. The undeniable chemistry between Wyatt and Mason Pilon (Rodolpho) left audiences in hysterics, to the point that even Pilon’s scene changing was easily deemed one of the funniest.

As “Matilda the Musical” was initially written for The Courtyard Theatre and London’s West End, this show calls for the use of British accents. This request, especially for high schoolers, is a difficult task to fulfill, but the actors in Patapsco’s production did so beautifully. Not only did Madison Wise (Matilda) and Ethan Kehring (Mr. Wormwood) maintain consistent British accents throughout their dialogue, Wise and Kehring continued to do so while singing, making “Telly” and “Quiet” two of the most riveting songs of this show.

The technical aspects of this production, including scene projections, animated visuals coinciding with stories, and outstanding lighting, helped move the story along in a timely, visually appealing manner. Some of these aspects were utilized with the intention of accentuating the absurdity of the plot. From handmade prosthetics by Delaney Crawford, Vanessa Hernandez, Bradley Henson, and Jackie Ruiz that truly brought out the ugliness within Miss Trunchbull, to the lighting designed by Cory Faison, Mackenzie Walker, Caroline Hiles, and Alyssa Bobek that allowed audiences to visually follow a school kid’s fart as it traveled towards Miss Trunchbull, the technical aspects went hand in hand with the comedic effects of the talent on stage. The contrasting colors and lighting of the opening birthday party/hospital scene and the first time the audience sees Matilda help establish her dreary upbringing, especially in comparison to what comes to mind when one thinks of childhood.

The hilarious and adorable production of “Matilda the Musical” at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts reminded audiences that “sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty” to get to your happy ending.