top of page

Ronald Dahl's Matilda the Musical

Paige Stegina| A&E Editor

In December of 2022, Netflix released their rendition of the musical Matilda. The story was originally imagined by Ronald Dahl in the 1988 novel and adapted for a musical by Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly which originally was performed in 2010. It was also made into a movie that was released in 1996 starring Mara Wilson as Matilda. In all adaptations, the story follows the same story. Young Matilda Wormwood is sent to a school, where her genius and imagination is soon recognized by her teacher, Miss Honey. Matilda must stand against her parents who despise her and Trunchbull, the evil headmistress. In Matilda’s journey, she discovers her voice and her place in the world, along with her telekinetic powers and brings revolution to the school. When on stage, the musical adaptation has won both Tony and Olivier musicals. The Netflix adaptation stars Alisha Weir as Matilda, Emma Thompson as Trunchbull, and Lashana Lynch as Miss Honey all directed by Matthew Warchus. As a whole, the musical offers a certain charm and a strong visualization of the characters.

The cast of the movie is strong. Alisha Weir brings an innocence to the role, along with the mischievous, revolting quality that is so crucial to the role. Emma Thompson’s performance as Trunchbull is fantastic, with the fierce, direct, and cruel nature of the character shining through. The adaptation is also able to visualize certain aspects of the musical that are difficult to portray on stage. The contrast between the open-aired moments of the musical that bring imagery of nature are strong in contrast with the dark atmosphere of the school. The “When I Grow Up” number as well as the library on wheels that gives Matilda an escape from both her school and home life illustrate this well. The adaptation is clever, incorporating the musical numbers into the environment, such as in Matilda’s introduction to the school, with the letters in the hallway matching up with those in the song. The emotion of Dahl’s work is clearly portrayed in this adaptation. Although the viewer must accept the imaginative mind that comes with a Ronald Dahl story, the adaptation shows the importance of individuality, standing up for what one believes in along with the importance of community and companionship.


bottom of page