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MATILDA at Coronado Playhouse makes being “naughty” a lot of fun

Mischief, a love of chocolate cake, the power of reading, referring to the TARDIS, and a dread of PE? MATILDA may sound like it was written with me in mind (and trust, that describes me quite accurately) but this precocious musical based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name and playing at Coronado Playhouse through February 23rd is bound to make everyone feel good about being a “little bit naughty”.

The cast of MATILDA Photo Credit: Ken Jacques

Matilda Wormwood is the pint-sized heroine of the story a fantastic Luna Olivieri the night I attended (a shared role with Reese McCulloch) a smart girl who loves to read and learn and is considered the “problem child” in her family of dedicated television watchers and staunchly anti-intellectual.

Justin Allen Slagle and Luna Olivieri in MATILDA Photo Credit: Ken Jacques

Justin Allen Slagle is very funny as the con man Mr. Wormwood, Kaitlin Stein is brash and comical as Mrs. Wormwood who only wants to focus on her dancing and Jameson Johnston as her brother Michael who is glued to the television set.

Matilda may think school is the answer, and while she finds an ally in the sweet teacher Miss Honey by Aislinn Lowenberg, she finds a formidable rival in the hilariously terrible headmistress Miss Trunchbull played by Anthony Zelig. Trunchbull is delightfully funny (and terrible since she’s the villain) but if you don’t laugh at the exaggerated way Zelig pronounces “school”, and “rules” then

Anthony Zelig and the cast of MATILDA Photo Credit: Ken Jacques

Luckily, Matilda is not alone in this school and this group of talented and crafty kids find ways to get the best of Miss Trunchbull. Owen Schmutz is delightful as the cake stealing Bruce and has some lovely vocal moments in the second act. Gigi Haas and Maggie Pacleb are the most adorable and bloodthirsty Russian gangsters you will ever see. The entire youth ensemble is talented and seems to be having fun up there which makes this show a blast to watch.

Directed by Rayme Sciaroni the musical makes the most of its comedic moments and its clever choreography by Alyssa Anne Slagle. (Did the kids even know that one point they were doing the Macarena for a moment, I wonder?)

Set design by Tony Cucuzzella and lighting by Chloe Oliana M.Clark set the scenes and make for easy and clear scene changes.

The six-piece band led by Nina Gilbert does well with all music and supporting the performers.

The show may be a bit dark, but that’s true to the source material since Dahl routinely wrote stories with some fiendish elements for his child characters to overcome. Luckily, the sinister is effectively played for laughs as the kids all get the better of those in their way to find their own version of happily ever after.

MATILDA is playing at Coronado Playhouse through February 23rd, for ticket and showtime information go to www.coronadoplayhouse.com

Click here to see how I liked the last MATILDA production in San Diego!

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