“Matilda The Musical” Brings Girl-Power to Austin’s ZACH Theatre

“Matilda The Musical” is an uplifting, captivating tale filled with inspiration, kindness, humor, karma and, best of all, girl-power moments. Packed with high-energy dance numbers, catchy songs and several unforgettable stars, “Matilda” is a joyous celebration of the anarchy of childhood and the power of imagination.   

Published April 29, 2019

Touted as the largest and most exciting productions in ZACH Theatre’s recent history, the Austin premiere of Roald Dahl’s Tony Award-winning “Matilda” follows the life and adventures of Matilda, an extraordinary girl with a vivid imagination. Based on the character in Dahl’s 1988 much-loved children’s book, Matilda has a captivating charm, sharp mind and an adoration for classical literature—all of which is only ridiculed and belittled by her callous, narcissistic parents. 

“Matilda The Musical” celebrates the power of the imagination and the courage it takes to take a stand. Photo courtesy Kirk Tuck

Life at Matilda’s private school is no picnic either. She is plagued by a tyrannical headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull; yet thankfully Miss Honey, a tender-hearted teacher, and the loveable librarian, Mrs. Phelps, show Matilda the love she clearly lacks.  Buoyed by this kindness, and always dreaming of a better life for herself, Matilda dares to take a stand against her adversaries in an attempt to change her destiny. By enlisting her classmates, Matilda becomes the biggest little hero of her own story.

Matilda’s mother (ZACH actor Sarah Burke) is focused on ballroom dancing with partner Rudolpho, while her father (ZACH actor André Martin) attempts to scheme Russian businessmen and her brother (ZACH actor Jack Weaver) is clueless to it all, leaving Matilda alone with her books, where she finds solitude in classic literature. Photo courtesy Kirk Tuck

The role of Matilda is shared amongst ZACH’s pre-professional actresses, Alexa Nelan and Chloe Van De Graaf. For the Champagne Opening Night, Nelan played the infectiously delightful five-and-a-half-year-old. Her authentic and convincing performance brought the audience into her world where they could feel the loneliness that filled Matilda.

On playing Ms. Trunchbull, J. Robert Moore says, “Villains are always the juiciest roles for an actor! I love the largeness and intensity that playing Ms. Trunchbull requires, and I love that it is a complete physical transformation for me.” Photo courtesy Kirk Tuck

Ms. Trunchbull, a stocky, militant headmistress with over-developed calves, is played by ZACH favorite J. Robert Moore. His portrayal of the evil and ruthless character brings the same combination of fear and terror evoked in the children’s book. Moore’s facial expressions add an extra element to Ms. Trunchbull’s fearsome persona. Through her elusive humor at the expense of the pint-sized characters, Moore’s delectable performance unites the audience in their dislike of the hateful headmistress.

“Matilda” author Roald Dahl wrote in his book that, Miss Honey (played at ZACH by Laura Lyman Payne) “had a lovely pale oval madonna face with blue eyes and her hair was light-brown. Her body was so slim and fragile one got the feeling that if she fell over she would smash into a thousand pieces, like a porcelain figure.” Photo courtesy Kirk Tuck

The young and talented pre-professional cast at ZACH Theatre provide high-energy dance numbers and catchy songs that make “Matilda” an uplifting and joyous celebration of the anarchy of childhood and the power of imagination. We loved it!

“Matilda The Musical” runs now through May 12 at the Topfer at ZACH Theatre.


Cover photo courtesy Kirk Tuck

Austinite Lisa Davis is the Editorial Assistant for Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate from Concordia University Texas earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Public Relations.

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