(i finally got an instagram a while ago. my old flip phone finally broke, so, iphone it is…have to admit it’s a handy little thing.)
i was feeling like complete ass last night but no one who could use my ticket seemed to want it, so i let myself be talked into going, and i’m glad i did - i actually didn’t have that great a time (feeling like crap, sitting next to assholes, etc) but i would’ve been pissed at myself if i’d missed timothy, chris and heather (tbh i wasn’t THAT excited about sean as the trunchbull, and i’ll have other chances to see fina, so those three were the ones i would’ve been pissed about missing.)
i chose the evening show knowing it meant i had a better shot at seeing fina - my options were her and brooklyn, and so far i’ve been more intrigued by the audio i’ve heard of fina - but i didn’t look at the board or “matilda” line in the playbill on my way in so i could at least be a little surprised by who my matilda was. i swear, not looking at twitter at all when i go during lesli’s vacation! i kind of miss the anticipation of my first few trips before i knew about the twitter, or the times i’d go early in the week, and having no idea whose name was going to be up.
anyway, enough pointlessness. i’m going to break tradition and start the review with sean, because i can’t really talk about fina without talking about alison and that’s going to take a while.
and as always i don’t have a ton to say about miss trunchbull, but i really enjoyed sean. more than i expected i would, if i’m being honest. his voice is really deep and definitely masculine, so i wasn’t sure if i was feeling it at first, but then…he started dancing. this guy is a twinkletoes like bertie carvel (though his leap isn’t impressive, but whose is next to bertie’s?), and watching this giant person flit around the stage was super entertaining. his voice is really great; i just like the miss trunchbulls who are a little more womanly. his facial expressions and line deliveries were terrific; a great blend of funny and sinister.
he also delivered the single creepiest moment i’ve ever witnessed in matilda. when he said “you’ve got to put it right - even if it screams” you could hear a self-satisfied smirk in his voice and a little smile flitted across his face. it’s not just confirmation that she killed magnus; sean is telling us, “i killed him - and i enjoyed it. i’m glad i did it; i’d do it again.” it is incredibly sinister and legit scary.
i admit i’ve never liked sean much as the escapologist, so i was meh on the idea of seeing him as miss trunchbull, but i figured i wanted to see all the tinytildas, obviously, so i might as well go see some other new-to-me people while i’m at it, and i’m glad i got to see him.
fina was our matilda, and she really wasn’t much like i’d expected. she reminded me a lot of paige in some ways. her speaking voice is incredibly expressive - but her face was pretty much blank, especially during her stories and quiet. she didn’t react at all during the book scene, which was a bit odd. mostly she seemed to be worried about getting all the words out rather than acting them - i hope she develops more confidence as time goes on, because while she seemed to have trouble getting the words out now and then, she didn’t forget anything or make any mistakes. she also has a couple of facial expressions that she seems to throw out there unrelated to anything that’s going on; they seem like unconscious habits more than acting (she often opens her eyes quite wide, or sets her jaw and glares. both things that could conceivably be reactions to things, but she’ll just occasionally do them for seemingly no reason. it’s a little distracting.)
she seemed a lot more comfortable when she was directly reacting to something, and she had a lot of really good moments:
- she seemed really nervous holding out the hat to her father, which i liked, like she wasn’t sure she’d get away with it.
- she was really good in the playground scene. her reaction to the chokey chant and her narcolepsy speech were very funny. her “didn’t we? … DIDN’T WE?” was absolutely hilarious.
- interestingly, fina has NO fear of silence or pauses. a few times i was genuinely worried that she’d frozen up, but she seemed totally fine. she waited a very long time before hugging miss honey, and left a very, very long pause between “i moved it with my eyes…am i strange?” i really thought she’d forgotten she had a line, but alison made no move to interject, so i guess that’s just how fina delivers the line.
- fina works amazingly well opposite alison. i think they’re the new bailey and jill in terms of perfect chemistry. the give and take between them is really lovely. even though, as i said, her face isn’t very expressive much of the time, but even so, her admiration of miss honey and her desperation to be loved were extremely evident.
- when fina walked into miss honey’s house she stopped. looked around. turned 90 degrees. looked around. repeat three times. long pause. “are you poor?” this kid’s instincts for what will make something go from pretty funny to very funny are spot-on, and this is the best example of it. that line has pretty much lost its impact on me at this point, but fina made it fresh and SO funny and cute. and again, the fact that she doesn’t fear a few seconds of silence makes her take on a lot of the lines unique.
- she broke my heart during my house. i was in tears. usually matilda leans into miss honey for “when it’s cold outside” and pulls away again a line later. fina just lay her head on miss honey’s shoulder, then nuzzled down into her chest for several lines. it was the sweetest, saddest thing i’ve ever seen. it really makes you stop and think about how this child has never been touched with affection before in her life.
- when she confronted miss honey at the end of my house, i am not exaggerating or using a figure of speech when i say that i had goosebumps. this child is intense. she seems so confused, disappointed and outraged in equal measures that miss honey is going to let this horrible injustice go because she’s too afraid. and alison looked so upset and scared it was really effective. like i said, their chemistry is flawless and they work perfectly off of each other.
so, on to alison. like i said before, her miss honey is probably the one that makes me the saddest. self-loathing and frustration in her own weakness roll off of her like fog - by the time she sings pathetic, she’s furious with herself and hates herself so much, it’s almost hard to look at her.
she also, of all the miss honeys, makes me feel the most aware of how terrible miss honey’s life is. i mean, we all know it, but there are little things here and there that just make me realize how badly she’s been affected by her horrible aunt. when matilda hugs her, she has no idea how to react and seems embarrassed by it. it’s clear that she absolutely adores the children in her class, though - she’s very warm and gentle.
when she sings my house, it’s pretty clear that she’s miserable and not okay with her life at all - but she’s doing her damnedest to make herself believe that she is.
it’s also really satisfying to watch her turn her previously self-directed internalized rage on miss trunchbull rather than against herself in the spelling bee scene.
…and then it turns to heartbreak again during the final scene. when she offers to take matilda, and matilda seems so moved by her father, she looks like her heart is breaking. then, at the very end, when matilda says she wants to stay with miss honey, alison breaks down in tears. it’s sweet and moving, but also incredibly sad - and really accurate to book canon, imo - when you realize the implication that miss honey NEEDS matilda, possibly more than matilda needs miss honey. she *isn’t* strong on her own, and a lot of her needs rest on the shoulders of this little girl. it’s sweet but also just really sad.
alison possesses my favorite qualities of both jennifer bowles and nadine isenegger - my two favorite miss honeys - and she’s really great in the role. her voice isn’t as fantastically expressive as jill’s is, but her face makes up for that.
a few other people i want to talk about:
chris was nigel, which i was really hoping would happen, and he didn’t disappoint at all. as seems to be usual with the “emergency” nigels, heather covered nigel’s song parts and spelling bee part, and chris only got to do the playground scene and the classroom scene where he “reads.” but my god, this is kid is SO FUNNY. possibly the funniest nigel of all time (of the kids i’ve seen anyway). he was SO disgusted by miss trunchbull losing her knickers to the syrup, and he was having such a great time pulling one over on her by faking sleep. this kid has so much comedic ability. i really hope that if jonah is leaving - i’ve been wondering if his absence is due to auditions for another show or something - he’ll be promoted. i doubt it since he’s so tall - they really had to scramble to get him covered in coats - but he’s amazing. i’m so jealous of the people who got to see him as bruce, because this kid is fantastic.
timothy was bruce. i don’t have a lot to say about him - it seems like his mic was turned down more than the other kids’, and i couldn’t hear him very clearly at times. i got the impression that he has a good voice, though. his dance moves were very careful, but that was true with sawyer, too, so maybe the swing boys don’t gain the confidence necessary doing only one show a week to really go nuts up there.
heatherwas covering most of nigel’s track as vanessa, like i said, and i gotta say, if you asked me to pick a favorite matilda cast member, it’d probably be her. she’s just such a delight to watch.
alexis growing on me as michael - still not a fan of the yelling, but it does make sense for the character as a reference to “when everyone shouts like they seem to like shouting,” and his hilariously stupid expression slays me. also, he had a bit of an incident where he accidentally flung his coat into the audience during revolting children. i always wondered if that had ever happened - now i know it has at least once! he managed to not crack up, somehow.
christianis really adorable - when he says “miss honey taught us - she’s very good at teaching!” he beams at alison like he really loves her, and seems to be enjoying defying miss trunchbull.
geoffwas on for sergei, which was a new one for me. his voice is is so beautiful, i was happy to get the chance to hear him sing even more than usual.
lesli actually changed up some line deliveries so i didn’t feel like i was watching the same performance i’d seen 20+ times before. that was nice to see.
there is audio, but i’m having trouble getting the darn thing uploaded to dropbox. if there’s interest i’ll make the links available but it may take a while at this rate.