After seeing the show on London's West End I was pleased to hear the original cast recording from the production in Stratford was very very close to what I heard on stage, maybe even better.
The score is slightly quirky and has several songs with lyrics seemingly impossible to fit into the music, but they do. And how.
The lyrics are fun and poignant and the arrangement is just complex enough to make this far more than a kids show. But then I hadn't expected anything less from Minchin. The cast is awesome. The kids are spectacular, the amazing Robert Madge of Gavroche (Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert) and Dodger (Oliver!) fame makes Nigel stand out and Matilda is impressive. But the true star of the show ofcourse can only be the cross-dressing Bertie Carvel as the hammer (and sometimes child) throwing headmistress Agatha Trunchbull.
Obviously the musical is based around Roald Dahl's children's book "Matilda".
The score opens with the wonderful "Miracle" and the birth of our protaganist Matilda. It then moves on to the uplifting "Naughty". Both songs are recurring themes for the rest of the score, which goes on to a cleverly worded ABC in the form of "School Song". Next up is the slight "Pathetic" by miss Honey which moves into our first confrontation with the Trunchbull as she explains how one gets to throw "The Hammer" for one's country, supported by the children singing latin hymns. Matilda's mother, smarting "front-bottom" and all, next explains to miss Honey how it's not about what you know but how "Loud" you can profess your ignorance. Another lament from Miss Honey about "This Little Girl" is followed by the wonderful "Bruce" whose largeness seems to be a bit like a Tardis (much roomier inside) as he devours an enormous chocolate cake. In the show it's now time for intermission followed by Matilda's dad praising the educational value of "Telly" and a musical "Entr'acte". We then move on to the next show-stopper as the kids and Miss Honey explain what they will do "When I grow Up". The moving "I'm Here" expands on Matilda's story-within-a-story about the escapologist and his acrobat wife. Then it's the Trunchbull's turn to set her nostrils to "The Smell of Rebellion". Her rage builds to a frenzy and at that point Matilda retreats into her own world where everything is "Quiet". She then wlaks home with Miss Honey who in "My House" explains a little about how she came to live in a shed. The show ends with the wonderful "Revolting Children" singing revolting songs using revolting rhymes (a nod to another Dahl work). But that's not entirely the end as the whole cast returns to the stage to sing "When I Grow Up (Reprise)". And as an added bonus keep listening after this finale to hear the Trunchbull go off in a rage.
A true classic in the making!