The heroine is played on a rotating basis by Sophia Gennusa, Oona Laurence, Bailey Ryon and Milly Shapiro. Oona was on duty as Matilda during a recent preview, and she proved a delightfully talented force, jumping around the stage with skill and yet also able to sing a pretty "Quiet."
Lauren Ward plays Miss Honey — she and Carvel are the only actors to make the jump from London — and is quite sweet, but she sticks out here as quite too sweet. She's a bit of a wimp and sings in one song that her sad little house is "enough," only to immediately trade it in for a nicer one. Ward's voice is lovely, but she has two of the weakest songs in the show.
Gabriel Ebert as Matilda's stupid father is brilliantly elastic, a man capable of vaudeville style broadness whose top-of-Act 2 rendition of "Telly" — a tongue-in-cheek celebration of TV ("All you need to fill your muffin/without having to really think or nuffin") — is a reason not to go to the bathroom at intermission.
It's a great year to be a kid on Broadway, from the orphans at "Annie" to the youngsters at "Motown the Musical" and "Kinky Boots." But at "Matilda," the kids burp, have their hair uncombed, let their socks fall down and plot revenge ("If it's not right/You have to put it right.") That would never have happened if Mary Poppins were around.
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