From start to finish, Rackheath Youth Theatre’s production of Matilda Jr was packed full of charm, aided by a whole host of brilliant performances.
This more compact version of the stage musical, designed for youth companies such as RYT, wasted no time in getting to the main crux of the story, and in cutting the tale down in length, sacrificed very little of Roald Dahl’s narrative. All killer, no filler, if you will.
Leading the line in the title role was Hollie Dance, who brilliantly maintained the fine line between precocious and sweet, displaying acting chops and a vocal ability that belied her age. Hers was a performance that showed she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with for many years to come.
With such a large company, there’s simply too many of them to pick out lots of individual performances, however, I felt Gracie Bird (Miss Honey) and Darcie Mann (Trunchbull) stood out in particular. Gracie’s vocals were gorgeous and her general performance was excellent, adding a layer of tenderness and maturity to the show. Darcie’s vocals were equally good, and she showed wonderful comedic ability as the villain of the piece.
Overall, the ensemble cast were outstanding, in what was a complex show that entailed a fair few full company numbers, but each of the young performers put their all into it and delivered superbly. Everyone was expressive, enthusiastic, and precise, and a real credit to Directors Debbie Dance and Laura Ferris who had clearly drilled them all expertly.
For quite a concise show, it was fairly heavy on the scene changes, but all bar one was handled with great discipline, to ensure the transitions kept the show flowing smoothly. The set was fairly simple but ingenious in its design, and the costumes were most eye-catching. And speaking of eye-catching, I really enjoyed the hilarious moment little Amanda Thripp (played by Daisy Bird) gets swung by her pigtails by the Trunchbull.
Well done to everyone involved in the production – it really was a fantastic show.