“You mustn’t let a little thing like little stop you”
The joys of Matilda the Musical have been one of the abiding pleasures of my theatregoing this decade – from my first experience in Stratford-upon-Avon to its hugely successful opening in the West End, its rise as one of the strongest new musicals of recent years, and one of the most effective adaptations of a Roald Dahl story, has been undeniable. And a huge part of that journey for me was the release of the soundtrack which convinced me of the merits of Tim Minchin’s score and erased any doubts I’d previously had, subsequently becoming one of my most listened-to albums.
So the news that an Original Broadway Cast recording was being released filled me with a little trepidation as the score has been crystalised so perfectly for me, even to the extent that I don’t even feel the need to see the show again as so many of the original UK cast has moved on. But the OBC recording has a number of sweeteners which meant I couldn’t resist it. A number of additional tracks are included – the overture introduced for the Americans, extra songs like ‘The Chokey Chant’, ‘Chalk Writing’ and the story songs covering the Escapologist and the Acrobat, and deleted song ‘Perhaps a Child’ which was cut in the preview period.
It is an excellent recording, bolstered by the presence of Bertie Carvel’s Mrs Trunchbull and Lauren Ward’s Miss Honey from the original cast, and the four girls playing Matilda – Oona Lawrence, Bailey Ryon, Sophia Gennusa and Milly Shapiro – are all delightfully perfect in the role, sharing the songs between them and coming together for a bonus version of ‘Naughty’ which features all of them. The only problem I had with the album was simply that it wasn’t the London cast recording I know and love. The differences in orchestration and interpretation are only slight but enough to make me crave the version I know and the overall feel is of a ‘live’ version of the soundtrack – not unwelcome just different.