Matilda @ The Cambridge Theatre (West End)

It isn't often that you can sit through a full length musical and not have even a second where you feel that you are in the moment of superfluousness, with the the song added to make the second act long enough, or to ensure each character had enough to do to justify paycheques.  Matilda was a solid 2.5 hours of well written music and scenes, performed with gusto by this brilliant cast. The directing and choreography was fabulous, most notably the work with the children. There was not a second of doubt or uncertainty, each piece of choreography executed with impeccable precision and commitment, and crafted to tell us something about the story as the song went on.

Favourite moments for me included the song and choreography for Alphabet Song, which cleverly manipulates the set piece from school gate, to play climber, to shelf of alphabet blocks, weaving bodies in and around the structure beautifully to move the story forward and capture the terror young kids feel in approaching school the first time. Also beautiful was When I Grow Up, choreographed on swings with large sweeping gestures. Finally, in a moment of comic genius (and too bad for those hanging out in the bar at the interval!) was Telly, performed by the father and son of the Wormwood family. Had me reeling with joy.

Most importantly, though, is the magic this show brings for kids. My own little Matilda, obsessed with this book, was on the edge of her seat, grinning ear to ear for the duration of the piece. She was thrilled by the scariness of Trunchbull, the caricatured ridiculousness of the Wormwoods, and the moment Matilda accomplishes her first miracle.

I strongly recommend this show. Keep in mind that the original Dahl book is dark, and the adults in general (Miss Honey aside) are not nice to the kids, so preparing young audience members is essential.