I have been waiting since the cold winter evening in January when my clutch broke driving back from Stratford to Birmingham for this soundtrack!! It was the second time I’d seen Matilda the Musical and had hoped it wouldn’t be the last. Sadly it was to be the last time I saw it in it’s original home of Stratford but gossips of there being a soundtrack CD were already being shouted. After the announcement of the soundtrack being released earlier this year and the news it would open in London, it caused much excitement in the fans of the musical and hopefully many more people will become fans of such a great show.
The CD listing suggests there’s been some changes – most notably the absense of Segai’s song ‘Perhaps a Child’ at the end, which when I saw it the second time saw the ending of the show changed quite a bit from the first. Also missing is the ‘Chokey Chant’ but that was only a short number amd what with the creatives claiming Hortensia has been cut recently maybe the whole song will have made an exit.
Anyway, those questions can’t be answered until it’s opened but in the meantime I bring to you an AfterThe Curtain Comes Down Track by Track Soundtrack Review.
First of all, can I just say now that I prefer the original production artwork as seen below. The poster for the London production also contains Matilda on a swing and is a little bit better than the CD cover but I still prefer the Quinten Blake Matilda. It also appears to have had a name change from Matilda A Musical to Matilda THE Musical.
Anyway – to the music! Unlike the Ghost Musical track by track, I know the songs from Matilda. It may have been a while since I last heard them but a lot of the tracks are unforgettable.
TRACK 1: Miracle
If you know the story of Matilda, an opening number called Miracle may make you consider there’s a non linear story line here – but there isn’t. Instead we see a group of children singing how they are praised by their parents and how they are the diamond in their families. Inbetween we meet Mr & Mrs Wormwood (who is now a ballroom dancer and competitor) who are in the hospital as Mrs Wormwood thinks she’s fat…. of course she’s preganant and we also find out their reactions to having Matilda…
A fantastic opening that introduces the family in an exciting way. The children get a chance to shine from the start. The staging in Stratford was awesome with so many things happening and hope it continues into London.5/5
TRACK 2: Naughty
Seeing a show where the main character is a young girl makes you wonder how she is going to cope carrying a show on her shoulders. You’d expect them to go easy on her…. but no! This is the first big solo from Matilda who also has to deliver a number of monologues and will hardly leave the stage and it’s a stonker of a song.
Minchin manages to cram so much into this song without making it cluttered. For thos familiar with the books it covers Matilda’s antics before she goes to school such as putting super glue into her Dad’s hat. ‘Sometimes, you’ve got to be a little bit naughty’ will be on everyone’s minds after listening!5/5
TRACK 3: School Song
So, Matilda starts school and meets lots of children her own age who then meet the older children who send a stark warning to them. This school isn’t the fun place that the parents have said but in fact it’s a scary, daunting prison…
Not so obvious listening to it but there’s a great use of the alphabet in this song which when performed in Stratford was made a lot more prominant. The tone changes instantly with the song and the threat of mennace that the school has is brought across well. 4/5
TRACK 4: Pathetic
Miss Honey, so brilliantly played by Lauren Ward (who reminds me of a young Meryl Streep) shows how it’s not just the children who are scared in this school thanks to the formidable head, Miss Trunchbull. A short, yet effective song and brilliantly performed.5/5
TRACK 5: The Hammer
So Miss Trunchbull…. AMAZINGLY played by Bertie Carvel, gives us her back story as an Olympic and trophy winning hammer throwing and how she applies what she’s learnt from this in her ‘teaching’ and running of the school. There is some brilliant juxtapositioning in this song from the boistrous to the choral and it helps to fill the character of Trunchbull.5/5
TRACK 6: Loud
I’ll be honest. The first time I saw the musical this was the song I liked the least. Mainly because it was the only thing that didn’t sit right with me with what was added to the story. The sub plot of Mrs Wormwood being a dancer and her dancing partner Rudolpho’s involvement just didn’t agree with me. Not as much as how the film of the book set it in America and ruined the story but I’m getting distracted.
Anyway, Miss Honey visits the Wormwoods to tell them how amazing their daughter is, but Miss Wormwood is busy practising her dancing and Miss Honey gets dragged into it. The song isn’t my favourite, but it’s very different to the rest and it stands out. The second time I saw the show I’m convinced it had been changed slightly as I enjoyed it more and I have to say that listening to it does make me like it a bit more. It’s a very hyper number with samba rythms defining it. 3/5
TRACK 7: This Little Girl
Another Miss Honey solo – one that shows us what sets her apart from any other teacher, recognising just how special and modest Matilda is and how she needs to react to it and act upon it. It also sets up a theme for the rest of the show when it comes to Miss Honey and she finds herself being able to recognise herself in the situation. It is a stunning and beautiful song.5/5
TRACK 8: Bruce
Ask people what their favourite part of Matilda is and I bet a large number will mention Bruce having to eat all of Miss Trunchbull’s chocolate cake. Luckily it wasn’t forgotten in the musical and a whole song is dedicated to Bruce and his task of eating a whole, massive, gooey, chocolate cake…
Showing a force of child solidarity which get’s stronger as the show goes on the children perform a cheerful, supportive song of encouragement using very child like language and terms to poor Bruce. There is no excuse, Bruce, to not like this song! 5/5
TRACK 9: Telly
In Stratford, many people would have missed this song. It was hidden away in the interval allowing Paul Kaye (better known as TV’s Dennis Pennis) to showcase his comic skills and interact with the audience. Whether it will have the same fate in London is yet to be known (likely as it has no real place in the flow of the plot) but don’t spend too long getting drinks/ice creams/going to the loo.
Mr Wormwood spreads the word that Telly is more useful then books and that you can learn more from sitting on your bum watching telly than reading a book.4/5
TRACK 10: Entr’acte
Nice bit of instrumental.3/5
TRACK 11: When I Grow Up
From the get go – this is my favourite track and the staging is awesome. I love this song. That is pretty much all you need to know. Also there’s a brilliant video which has a version with Minchin singing it (probably a demo of the song) and the RSC and Minchin really need to release that version too.
This is just a great song. Touching, funny and a great memorable way to open the second act. You know how many I’m going to give it out of 5 yeah? Well you’re wrong – it’s going to get an extra mark. Think of it like a star or a bonus point or something.6/5 (yep 6 out of 5 – crazy!)
TRACK 12: I’m Here
So, this track seems a bit strange listening to it on the soundtrack – but in the show it makes a lot of sense. I have also just realised that Melanie La Berrie criminally doesn’t get to sing on this soundtrack – I’m shocked. The librarian, Mrs Phelps played by La Berrie is an amazing character and I didn’t notice that she doesn’t get to sing.
Anyway, this is a haunting, dramatic number. It drives a sub plot that isn’t in the book yet works so well with the musical as a whole. It’s beautifully dark with a synister score.4/5
TRACK 13: The Smell of Rebellion
Trunchbull teaching a PE lesson… on stage hilarious on CD slightly not that interesting. Not the greatest song to listen to as it relies on the performance but that’s what you get with soundtracks. Many times I’ve heard a song that I didn’t really like then seen it performed and fallen in love! It has a bit of a catchy chorus line but that’s all it has going for it.3/5
A Matilda solo – and a stunning one at that. Quiet tells of Matilda coming to terms with her new found powers and has such complicated lyrics for anyone yet alone a young girl to sing infront of an audience. An example of the lyrics:
“I say, say ‘red’, for example, there’s no way of knowing if ‘red’ means the same thing in your head as ‘red’ means in my head when soemone says ‘red’?”
This is yet another beauty from Minchin. I remember the audience being captivated by a young girl raised on a pedastool, singing this with noone making a noise in the theatre. Hairs on backs of neck going up on end, goosebumps spreading across the balconies and general awe that such a young girl could give us such a great performance. Some of thos feelings come back when listening to the soundtrack.5/5
TRACK 15: My House
Matilda shocked that Miss Honey lives in nothing more than a shack gets this wonderful response from Miss Honey. With ‘It isn’t much, but it is enough for me‘ striking the thoughts of many of those listening/watching this song touches people in different ways to any of the other songs on the soundtrack of the show.
The song effortlessly blends into a twist that those familiar with the story will know and into the other plots of the show. This song is just beautiful and Lauren Ward gives a heart wrenching performance as Miss Honey.5/5
TRACK 16:Revolting Children
Road Dahl loved revolting things and it feels right that the word ‘revolting’ gets a strong place in this show. Not only are the children revolting in the mind of the Wormwoods and Trunchbull but they are revolting against Trunchbull.
A fast paced, exciting, thrilling song that chronicles the downfall of Trunchbull. Listening to it without the cut song ‘Perhaps a Child’ shows that this is the climax the show needed all along.5/5
TRACK 17:When I Grow Up (Reprise)
Need I say more?!5/5
This video has the Minchin version of When I Grow Up on it – it’s brillian!
Tomorrow I’ll post something from my past – a blog on the show which will help reinforce my love for this musical. But the CD is a brilliant way to help me remember what a fantastic show this is.
The CD is avaliable from The RSC which can be found by going the the Matilda The Musical website. The musical opens for previews on the 18th October in London at the Cambridge Theatre. More information on the website (see link).
Music & Lyrics by Tim Minchin
Orchestrations by Chris Nightingale
Dialogue by Dennis Kelly