PERTH audiences are hard to crack and it’s uncommon for more than two curtain calls.
As for standing ovations, I thought they’d gone out of style — until the premiere of Tim Minchin’s musical Matilda.
Rising to their feet, the audience in the packed theatre clapped and wolf whistled as the cast took bow after bow, and their reluctance to let go of the magic was palpable.
During the performance the sheer joy of Roald Dahl’s story came through in the spontaneous laughter of children in the audience.
From the opening song My Mummy Says I’m a Miracle, Matilda set the scene for a rollicking good time, which showcased the amazing talent of the cast’s Aussie youngsters
The song is pure Minchin: a tongue-in-cheek dig at today’s over-indulged kids, and their overbearing parents, sung by a fantastic chorus of wonderfully conceited youngsters.
Matilda’s parents the Wormwoods, think she’s anything but a miracle, and would rather she watched TV than read the likes of Dostoyevsky and Dickens, while her father would rather she was a boy: “I’m a girl,” she tells him often.
The grown ups are pantomime bad, and I’d expected the audience to boo rather than clap James Millar’s evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull.
But his wonderful caricature was so good at being bad, that by the end, he elicits a smidge of sympathy for his character’s downfall.
The show lives or dies on the role of Matilda, which is shared by four youngsters.
On opening night, 11-year-old Eva Murawski took to the stage with a professionalism that belied her tender years.
Her every gesture was spot on: from rolling up her sleeves to tackle an injustice, to conversing in Russian, and her singing was powerful and pitch perfect.
Matilda’s best friend Lavender is hammed up wonderfully by Sophia Portas, who adds a comic cheekiness that had the audience guffawing.
Rob Howell’s sets were wonderful, especially the library, where Matilda finds solace amongst the books.
Full of wicked fun and great songs, it’s no wonder Matilda took our more than 70 international awards, including a record 13 Helpmann Awards.
At Crown Theatre until May 7, Matilda is a show for every child and the inner child of all adults.
by JENNY D’ANGER