Matilda: The power to make the world a better place

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THE LITTLE girls who play Matilda, (L-R) Zara Yazbek Polito, Sofia Poston, and Zoe Modlinne, have to be triple threats — they have to be able to sing, dance and act.

BOOKS, shows, and songs are not just words, they are ways of telling stories.

“Denying stories is denying the most human part of being a human. Without stories, we’re just eating machines with books,” Matilda the Musical book writer Dennis Kelly wrote on the playbill’s notes.

Based on the 1988 book by Roald Dahl, Matilda the Musical is now in Manila, with performances at the Theatre at Solaire this month.

The story follows Matilda, a five-year-old gifted with telekinesis, as she overcomes struggles in her family and in school.

Since it premiered in 2010, the musical — commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company — has won over 85 international awards including the 2012 Olivier Award for Best Musical and a joint Best Actress award for the four young actresses who alternated in the lead role.

“I think theater should always aim to make its audience laugh and cry, unless there’s a really good reason why not. Stories are best when they are a bit like roller coasters… Matilda has all these things, making it the perfect story for a stage musical,” composer and lyricist Tim Minchin wrote on the playbill’s notes.

Zara Yazbek Polito, Sofia Poston, and Zoe Modlinne are the young actresses who alternate as Matilda in the international touring production. They told the press at a media call on March 6 that it has been a challenge playing the role which requires a triple threat (a performer who can sing, dance, and act). “It’s quite hard to sing, dance, and act at the same time,” Ms. Poston said. Her alternate, Ms. Polito agreed: “There is so much to remember.”

Resident director Natalie Gilhome said that the three young actresses each deliver their strengths. “There is a real maturity, [and] a lot of nuanced intelligent conversations that we end up having with these young girls. On top of the talent, there are certain traits of Matilda that lie in all of them,” she said.

Also in the cast are Haley Flaherty who takes on the role of the sympathetic teacher Miss Honey, Hayden Tee as the evil headmistress Miss Trunchbull, Stephen Jubber and Claire Taylor as Matilda’s parents Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, and Nompumelelo Mayiyane as the librarian Mrs. Phelps.

“One of the things we learn from watching the show is that we all have the power inside ourselves to make the world a better place. And if we see something that is not right, you make a change,” Ms. Gilhome said of the story.

“I think you should watch [the show] because it would keep you entertained for days. It’s got secrets, magical stuff, moving things with Matilda’s eyes,” Ms. Polito said.

“And it’s got one dangerous thing in it: Amanda Thripp,” she ended.

That’s all they are revealing before you see the show. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman

For ticket information, visit TicketWorld (, 8891-9999). There will be special prices on selected show dates. On March 17, 8 p.m., and March 22, 6 p.m., all orchestra seats will be P4,000 and all balcony seats will go for P2,000. A matinee performance has been added on March 18, 2 p.m., with all tickets at P2,200.