'Matilda: The Musical' wins raves for its Broadway opening

The musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel has been called 'the most satisfying musical to come out of Britain' and 'the best musical since "The Lion King."'

Joan Marcus/Boneau/Bryan-Brown/AP
Four actresses (from l. to r.: Bailey Ryon, Milly Shapiro, Sophia Gennusa, and Oona Laurence) share the role of Matilda in 'Matilda: The Musical.'

Critics are raving over the musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s book “Matilda,” which opened April 11.

The show, which opened in London in 2011, was similarly beloved in the UK. The seven Olivier Awards won by “Matilda” in 2012 set a record for the most Oliviers ever received by a show. 

However, as Guardian writer Emma Brockes noted in her review of the American show, “there is tough competition on Broadway, and not everything travels.”

But it’s hard to imagine how the reception to the Broadway production could be better.

“’Matilda the Musical’ is the most satisfying and subversive musical ever to come out of Britain,” New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley wrote in his review.

The review for Time Magazine ran with the headline: “Matilda: The Best Musical Since ‘The Lion King.’”

“It would be easy to call it the best British musical since Billy Elliot, but that, I’m afraid, would be underselling it,” Time reporter Richard Zoglin wrote. “You have to go back to The Lion King to find a show with as much invention, spirit and genre-redefining verve.”

Chicago Tribune writer Chris Jones called it “the best family musical in years,” while USA Today writer Elyse Gardner, who gave it three-and-a-half stars out of four, wrote that it’s “the smartest musical to arrive on Broadway in years… Matilda is also affecting, and enchanting, in a way that homegrown hits of late haven't been.”

The literary version of “Matilda” was first published in 1988 and tells the story of the titular protagonist, the prodigy-level smart daughter of two neglectful parents who send her to a school ruled over by a cruel headmistress.

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