“Matilda” soars at Legacy

Confession Time: With the addition of a fulltime job last year, I’ve done a pisspoor job of keeping up with theatres, Southside. Which was exactly what I pledged to do on this site. No excuses. I’m working on it.

But I did manage to make a recent production of “Matilda” at the Legacy in Tyrone. Better yet, I got to do it with a friend – I’ve got a new buddy who loves musical theatre as much as I do, so the hubby’s off the hook and happy about it (He’s never been a fan, though in fairness, I did make him come to see “Come From Away” when it came through town last month and he absolutely loved it. So did I).

Back to Matilda. This was my second time at Legacy, and folks, I’m impressed. Two out of two – the first was ‘Always Patsy Cline’ – they can put me on the mailing list. This fairly small proscenium stage in the equally small town of Tyrone, GA – read, all but the middle of nowhere – has got the goods. This production of the recent Broadway hit featured excellent production values, a wonderfully talented cast. Standouts definitely include Brady Dunn as Matilda’s dad, Mandy Corbett as her mom, and Evan McLean as a gender bending, marvelous malicious Trunchbull. Musical chops, all around. Fantastic choreography from Bethany Hayes Smith. I don’t care if it was a direct steal from the Big B, the number ‘When I Grow Up’ at the top of act 11 which literally SOARED on swings has become one of my favorite theatrical moments.

Great lighting. Terrific, very flexible and workable sets – you know what I mean, the kind that slide in and out with alacrity and never get in the way of the story. Fine costuming. I can’t fault a thing…

Except one. The young lead, the all important part of Matilda was played by rising 5th grader Sarah Fowler, who, according to the program notes, has her heart set on making it to Broadway and I wouldn’t bet against her. This young lady has not only the voice but the gravitas, the presence to pull off a central role. How awful then to watch her betrayed by a mic. I’d like to think that anyway. The point is, a good 70% of what young Sarah – or Matilda, if you will – had to say was completely, utterly unintelligble. Could Not Be Understood. All we got was noise. Which was tragic, for her and the show. It might not have been Sound’s fault – because I think the actor’s attempt at a British accent was part of the problem as well.

Nonetheless. It was great fun, and I’ll definitely be going back to Legacy.