From The Third Row: Husky Drama’s “Matilda”


On Saturday, I got to sit in Winterset’s third row to watch the Husky Drama present Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I had fun watching this rather outside the box musical. It has been quite some time since I had seen Matilda take the stage, so I read the book, listened to the playlist, and I did a fair amount of research to prep myself for what I was about to see.

If you’ve read my previous review, you would know that I like to start with my first impressions of the show. The set, which was rather abstract with grey walls and colored tiles of various size, was exposed with the curtain being wide open, and placed at the center upstage was the pit on a platform. Once again, the pit was behind the actors. Husky Drama’s auditorium is built so the pit was on a platform above the actors, providing for very nice acoustics.

A skit done by a few ensemble actors started about not taking pictures and the rudeness of being on a phone and finally, “Miracle” started with the female ensemble, but what really caught me off guard was that all the male ensemble was played by girls in mostly red shirts and from what I could tell a long french braid. At first, I thought that this was a lack of male talent and or auditionees, but seeing the size of the larger full company, with many of the boys in the back, I only got more confused. I have been in musical theatre for as long as I can remember and I know the struggle of finding men to fulfill roles, but I always have found someone. I don’t really know what Husky Drama was doing here, and any time a part came where the male ensemble was supposed to sing, I found myself cringing. There seemed to be an abundance of men on stage, and this left me puzzled to this day. Another thing that shocked me was the sheer size of the full company. I felt like I was looking at 50 or 60 people on stage, it was intense, and I really didn’t see a point in having such a large full company, but I overall enjoyed it. There seemed to be a spot for everyone on stage.

I enjoyed Vivian Klein as Mrs. Wormwood. I feel the role was right for her. She was big, sassy, and loud on stage and the role typically demands a diva. I tip my hat to the person responsible for casting. It was done really well. The Wormwoods were played by brother and sister Anthony and Vivian Klein. Both are incredibly talented in both acting and song. Matilda was curated by Abagail Sawhill, and she did quite a nice job being both small and powerful, an acting skill that takes immense talent and intense concentration. She took great command on the stage when needed, especially when she was joined by Daniel Howell. This acting duet was quite impressive because they spoke with the same intensity and without looking at each other. It was little elements like this that made Husky Drama feel more and more professional.

After intermission and a brief and amusing Entr’acte from Anthony Klein, and a few soft numbers of “When I Grow Up” and the Acrobat Stories, the ever-anticipated “Smell of Rebellion” came. The intense role of Miss Agatha Trunchbull was brought to the stage by Mara Feirer. Feirer had amazing control of the stage in the appropriate times, but when her show stopping number came, either she forgot how to enunciate her words, or there was a technical issue. I was sitting in the third row and I couldn’t understand what she was saying, and it just got worse in the double time discipline. Sawhill took the stage with “Quiet” and gaining Matilda’s powers, and the stage magic redeemed the Husky stage. Suddenly, I remembered just how long the ending of Matilda actually is. Throwing away my pre-conceptions of this ending, Husky Drama performed it well. Overall, I enjoyed watching this rendition of Matilda. The full company was large and intimidating, the casting was very well done, and the effort of everyone on stage honestly impressive. I would give this rendition of  Matilda 3.5 out of 5 stars. If other troupes are interested in taking  Roald Dahl’s Matilda to stage, I would ask Husky Drama how they casted so well and got a full company to be as large as it was, but hunt for your own ideas on the set.