The best children’s books are full of colourful imagery perfectly suited to a vivid imagination, so naturally it’s easy to adapt them for movies; it’s a little harder to stage them successfully, but when a children’s musical works on stage, it works. Songs add an extra dimension that your kids won’t forget in a hurry, and the feeling of being there is so much fun for the whole family.
Roald Dahl’s Matilda is the perfect example of this, as a much loved children’s classic full of magic and mischief (that spawned a much loved family film too) makes its way onto the West End stage for the first time. Receiving rave reviews during its first run, especially for the young girls playing Matilda; Hayley Canham, Cleo Demetriou, Jade Marner, Isobelle Molloy and Eleanor Worthington Cox all ably taking over from Mara Wilson’s excellent turn in the motion picture; Matilda the Musical thoroughly deserved its Laurence Olivier award for Best New Musical, not to mention its myriad Critics’ Choice and other theatre awards.
With music and lyrics from Aussie oddball Tim Minchin and a thoroughly unhinged portrayal of Miss Trunchbull by Bertie Carvel, Matilda the Musical is like a Tim Burton film on stage, and captures every bit of the book’s twisted humour.
Similarly successful has been Nick Stafford’s adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, which beat the Hollywood film into production for a change (Steven Spielberg’s lauded movie is in fact based on this performance). The gripping play is perfect for slightly older children and those in need of something a little more serious, and has won a total of 5 Tony Awards in 2011, including the award for Best Play. Now showing at the New London Theatre, War Horse seems unlikely to slow in its momentum over the next few months, with performances already scheduled for the rest of the season and far beyond.
Both Matilda and War Horse are booking well into 2013 (February and October respectively), and with large discounts on West End theatre tickets online at Ticket.com, it’s the perfect time to gather the family together for a good story.