Review of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical at COCA

    This year’s COCA Summer Musical was a thoroughly entertaining production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical. The show is based on the novel by Roald Dahl, with book by Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by Tim Minchin.

    The title character, Matilda Wormwood, is a precocious child whose family is incapable of appreciating her. Her mother is so obsessed with ballroom dancing that Matilda’s birth was a surprise to her. Her father is a used car salesman utterly lacking in scruples and intelligence. He thinks television is the height of culture and has no interest in a child who isn’t a boy.

    On Matilda’s first day of school, her teacher, Miss Honey, recognizes that Matilda is a voracious reader and a mathematical prodigy. Miss Honey wants to fast-track Matilda, but the imperious headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, scoffs at the idea and scolds Miss Honey on the importance of following rules.

    The sadistic Miss Trunchbull delights in tormenting the children until Matilda uses her most extraordinary talent in standing up to the tyrant.

    The COCA students turned in uniformly impressive performances under director Jennifer Wintzer and musical director Colin Healy. The show featured lively choreography by Chris Page-Sanders and fight choreography by Michael Pierce, which the cast brought to life with enthusiasm and discipline. The accents required (mostly English) were convincingly handled under Nancy Bell’s dialect coaching.

    Riley Carter Adams’ splendid Matilda captured her resilience in the face of abuse. The students who shone in supporting roles included Norah Wolters as Lavender, Isaac Wilson as Bruce, Brynn Meyer as Amanda, Jarod Rhodes as Eric, Rian Page as Nigel, Danity Gates as Hortensia, Paul Horn as Tommy, and Elisha Johnson as Michael.

    The adult performers provided excellent models from which the students could learn. Alicia Revé Like was the essence of caring as Miss Honey, while Will Bonfiglio was a fearsome martinet as Miss Trunchbull. Dustin Petrillo as Mr. Wormwood and Tyler White as Mrs. Wormwood found delightful comedy in the excesses of Matilda’s horrid parents.

    The adult supporting roles were admirably played by Cameron Tyler as the Doctor and Rudolpho, Matt Billings as Sergei, Margery A. Handy as Mrs. Phelps, Michael Thanh Tran as The Escapologist, and Rebecca Hartman as The Acrobat.

    Completing the taut ensemble were Jailyn Genyse, Alexandria Eller, Vincent Emmanuel Meyer, Louis Mallon, Zoe Klevorn, Kennedy Jenkins, Dizzy Funke, Quentin Farquharson, Marie Garlich, and Lucy Myerscough.

    The show had the atmosphere it needed thanks to David Blake’s set Shevaré Perry’s costumed, Kareem Deanes’ sound, and Jayson Lawshee’s lighting and projections.

    —Gerry Kowarsky

    Photo by Pratt + Kreidich Photography, courtesy of COCA

    Riley Carter Adams (left) as Matilda and Alicia Revé Like as Miss Honey in Roald Dahl’s Matilda The Musical at COCA.