Production of Matilda musical marks magical return for Stagecoach Cambridge
As live theatre continues to make its all-singing, all-dancing return, performing arts school Stagecoach in Cambridge has been getting in on the act by staging a production of the Matilda stage musical.
Based on the 1988 children’s novel by Roald Dahl, the show – which had a cast of 35 young performers from Cambridge, aged eight to 15 – was performed twice on Saturday (July 31) at Coleridge School.
Amazingly, the children rehearsed and readied the play in just five days, working with West End performer Lara Denning, who herself appeared in Matilda in London. This was the first Cambridge production of the adapted show Matilda – The Musical Jr, a version of the play tailored tor children.
It was also the first time in almost two years that these young performers had the chance to showcase their talents fully. Angharad Walter, principal at Stagecoach Cambridge, said the performances were “absolutely incredible”, adding: “I would hands down say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen... I know I’m really biased but they were amazing.”
Angharad, who grew up in Cambridge, said the students did everything themselves. “They moved the scenery, they took on all the responsibility,” she said. “It was a set where the kids became some of the scenery as well, so they held pictures and were lampshades and things. They started on Monday and they’d finished it all by Thursday, and then we were refining it.”
Rehearsals ran from 10am to 6pm daily. “They basically rehearsed it as though they were a West End cast,” said Angharad. Was Lara Denning – who played both Mrs Wormwood and Miss Honey in the West End production of Matilda – impressed? “Yes, she cried a lot – she’s still crying about it now,” said Angharad, who trained alongside Lara at the Mountview drama school in London.
“She’s been messaging me saying she’s been thinking back to particular moments, and she was just blown away by how amazing they were.”
Angharad added: “I think the thing that is also really important about this first show that they’ve done is obviously they hadn’t done anything for nearly two years, and I think that made it all the more emotional.
“We weren’t sure we’d be able to do it if somebody had become unwell during the week – we would have all had to have stopped. We’ve spent the last month planning it and really hoping that restrictions would allow us to be able to perform.”
Stagecoach runs both term-time and holiday courses. It is starting new classes at Chesterton School on Wednesday evenings (5pm-8pm) in September. Visit stagecoach.co.uk/cambridge.