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To make a miracle, sometimes you have to be a little naughty


On stage at Fort Myers Theatre is Matilda the Musical. With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim Minchin, Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, aided by her vivid imagination and perceptive eye, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny … proving that to make a miracle, sometimes you have to be a little naughty.

The musical is adapted from the Roald Dahl children’s book of the same name. It follows a little girl with emotionally unavailable and verbally abusive parents who is sent to a boarding school run by the even more abusive and kid-hating Miss Trunchbull. The storyline is dark and foreboding. Sadly, it was a reflection of Dahl’s own experiences in a British boarding school where the instructors routinely beat the pupils and dropped slivers of soap into the boys’ mouths if they snored at night.

It’s hard to imagine a more vile and despicable educator than the boarding school’s headmistress, Agatha Trunchbull. Her motto, and that of the school, is “bambinatum est magitum” — “children are maggots.” But her physical and verbal abuse isn’t just reserved for her charges. She directs a fair amount of opprobrium at Matilda’s teacher, who doesn’t merely indulge, but rather encourages Matilda’s love of reading and gift for spinning disquietingly intuitive tales.

Any other child would be browbeaten under circumstances such as these. But buoyed by the lessons she’s learned in the course of her voracious consumption of some of the greatest literary works of fiction ever written, Matilda has vicariously tasted the metaphorical milk of human kindness learning, in the process, that humankind is capable of great kindness and grace. But in the end, she doesn’t stand up to Trunchbull or her parents for herself, but rather out of love and concern for the only person who has ever shown her caring and tenderness – her benevolent teacher.

Interestingly, Fort Myers Theatre has double cast this show. One cast goes by the appellation of Naughty; the other by Magical. The result is two qualitatively different variations of the same production. If you doubt the accuracy of this conclusion, watch both casts and decide for yourself.

Go here for play dates, times and cast lists.

June 5, 2024.



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