What: Disney’s The Little Mermaid presented by Fairwinds Broadway In Orlando
When: Friday, May 12 – Sunday, May 14, 2017 (show times vary) See website for more info.
Where: Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts – Walt Disney Theater
Tickets start at $33.75 each

Lean Green DAD received a pair of complimentary tickets on an invited media night to review this production. The views and opinions expressed in this post are our own. For more details on what this means, please visit our disclosure page.

The musical Matilda is based on the novel by Roald Dahl. It’s Creative, original, and out of the box! It’s like no other musical I’ve ever seen. It’s surprisingly dark at times! With intricate moving sets, clever use of Scrabble-like tiles around the proscenium and stage floor, the stage looks like a puzzle; always shifting…spelling out words…The choreography was sharp, militant, and even incorporated martial arts…This is not “ANNIE” my friends…This musical is smart, witty, deep AND dark!!

The show opens with what intentionally sounds like an out of tune orchestra of squeaking clarinets and honking clown horns. Suddenly, a very dynamic and talented children’s ensemble begins singing and dancing while their helicopter parents hover over their very average, entitled children, gushing over each one of their precious miracles in the upbeat, catchy and cleverly ironic song “Miracle”! While most parents in this generation believe their children are “gifted and special,” Matilda’s parents are disgusted by Matilda who they call a “stupid, lousy little bookworm” rather than recognizing the truly gifted child she is. Matilda shows miraculous courage, strength, and wisdom beyond her five years.

Abused and neglected by her idiotic parents, Matilda escapes into her books and uses her vivid imagination to tell extravagant stories that dazzle and impress the librarian, Mrs. Phelps and her teacher, Miss Honey. Tonight the role of Matilda was played by Gabrielle Gutierrez. The demanding role of Matilda is rotated between three young actresses.

Gabrielle, who is reprising her role as Matilda, brings maturity, intelligence, and depth to the intensely demanding role of Matilda. Her confident, strong singing voice combined with her colorful storytelling captivated the audience right from the start! Her performance of the song “Naughty” is fun, spunky and mischievous and sets up Matilda’s motto, “Even if you’re little you can do a lot…if it’s not right, you have to put it right! Sometimes you have to be a little bit Naughty!” During her deeply powerful song, “Quiet”, it was as if the audience was afraid to even breathe for missing any moment of her performance. She carries the show!

Mrs. Wormwood, Matilda’s ballroom dancing obsessed mother, is played by the very talented triple threat, Darcy Stewart. She first appears to us in a hospital gown, hilariously unaware that she is 9 months pregnant and about to give birth! Her big, LOUD voice and impressive dancing and acrobatic skills make her a crowd favorite, despite portraying the self-absorbed, narcissistic abusive mother of Matilda. The audience loved her show-stopping song and ballroom dance number “LOUD” where she explains that looks are more important than books!

Mr. Wormwood, Matilda’s father, played by Matt Harrington, is one of my favorite characters! This ridiculously, over the top, green haired car salesman entertains the audience with his high-energy, physical comedy, backward thinking, and general stupidity! “All I learned, I learned from Telly! The bigger the Telly, the smarter the man!” (Telly-British for television)

When Matilda begins her first day of school at Crunchem Hall Elementary, she and her fellow new students are terrified by the older students in a cleverly choreographed vertical dance on an iron gate using alphabet blocks to accentuate the lyrics to the “School Song.” We then meet Matilda’s warm and nurturing (yet timid) teacher, Miss Honey who recognizes Matilda’s gifts and approaches the horrible headmistress on Matilda’s behalf. Miss Honey, played with such warmth and feeling by the lovely, Jennifer Bowles struggles with her own abusive childhood and feels a strong emotional connection to protect Matilda. However, it is Matilda who ultimately saves Miss Honey from her “pathetic” abusive, poverty stricken life.

Miss Trunchbull, the former Olympic Hammer Throwing Champion Headmistress of Crunchem Hall, is played by the hilarious and physically intimidating Dan Chameroy. Miss Trunchbull believes “All children are maggots” and enjoys the sport of torturing any student who crosses her. The ultimate antagonist, Miss Trunchbull strikes fear into the heart of all her students and teachers; except Matilda. Matilda and the students eventually REVOLT against Miss Trunchbull in the final number of the show “Revolting Children!”

There are some unexpected, supernatural twists as Matilda learns to use her powerful mind to physically manipulate objects and save the day.

Special praise should be given to the amazing cast of children who play Matilda’s classmates. Each one of these kids gives 110% on stage at every moment! They are dancing, tumbling, singing, moving set pieces and working just as hard, if not harder than the adults! This show is physically and emotionally exhausting and these kids are absolute pros! Remembering that most of these kids are between 9-11 years old and juggling rehearsals, performances, and schoolwork…it is impressive to see them performing at such an incredibly high level!

Matilda is a must see!!! Warning: Young children may find a couple scenes scary, loud or upsetting, but for the most part, they will be entranced by the story, the music, the dancing, the magic and the high energy of the performances!

What: Disney’s The Little Mermaid presented by Fairwinds Broadway In Orlando
When: Friday, May 12 – Sunday, May 14, 2017 (show times vary) See website for more info.
Where: Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts – Walt Disney Theater
Tickets start at $33.75 each

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Lean Green DAD™

Cory is a husband, father of three and vegan athlete. His blog, Lean Green DAD™, is a lifestyle blog about food, family and fun that helps passionate people, mostly parents, who have over-scheduled, busy lives maintain a healthy balance of plant-based nutrition, fitness and overall wellness.
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