Matilda The Musical hits Southampton

Elliot Harper as Miss Trunchbull
Elliot Harper as Miss Trunchbull

Winner of more than 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, the Matilda The Musical tour plays Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre from June 11- July 6.

And in Miss Trunchball, Elliot Harper is delighted to play one of the great villains of modern musicals.

She really isn’t awfully nice at all…

“Yes, she is pretty villainous,” Elliot says, “but then when you consider the backstory, you realise that she is a murderer. She is a psychopath… more maybe more a sociopath, I would say. Based on her own bad experiences growing up, she has become this tyrant. She has become this pretty awful individual… who is great to play!

“Hopefully there is also a lot of comic relief, but the important thing for Matilda winning the day is that Miss Trunchball has got to be pretty ghastly. But it does come from somewhere. I have done a lot of work, and there is a lot of thought that goes into it. There is a point where she is coming from and the idea is that it was probably all based on her childhood… but that doesn’t really justify all the stuff she does!

“But that’s the great thing about working with the RSC. There is just so much detail that goes into everything they do. There is a lot of work on the character.”

And yes, with the RSC, you can feel the difference: “It is that fine detail that they really go into, and I think that is part of what makes the show so successful. There are also amazing costumes and there is amazing music.

“And having done this show in London, there is no difference in quality taking it on tour. There are no concessions…”

Elliot took over the role in January: “It was quite daunting, but I had been in the show before already. I was in the show in London for a couple of years, doing a different track. I played the Escapologist in the London show, so I was very familiar with it all, and I auditioned for Miss Trunchball subsequently. I had actually been the under-study. I was second under-study and I probably got to go on about 12 times in a couple of years.

“And I love the comic element to it. It is such a great show.”

Inspired by the Roald Dahl’s book, Matilda The Musical was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and premiered at the RSC’s Stratford-upon-Avon home in November 2010, before transferring to London’s West End in October 2011, where it opened to rave reviews. The New York production of Matilda The Musical opened in April 2013 at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre and was celebrated on 10 Top Ten lists for 2013, including TIME Magazine’s #1 Show of the Year.

Matilda The Musical has now been seen by more than 7.7 million people worldwide, having played in over 60 cities with more than 5500 performances in the West End, on Broadway, across North America and in Australia and New Zealand.

Matilda The Musical swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking seven awards, and won four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway. The North America production toured 52 cities.

The Australian and New Zealand production won a Sydney Theatre Award for Best Musical in 2015, and played sold-out seasons in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Auckland. The show broke further records in July 2016 by winning all 13 Helpmann Awards for which it was nominated. Matilda The Musical will have its first non-English language production at the LG Arts Centre in Seoul, South Korea from September 2018 until February 2019.

Matilda The Musical is produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company with André Ptaszynski and Denise Wood as Executive Producers. The production was developed with the support of Jeanie O’Hare and the RSC Literary Department.

Tickets for Matilda The Musical (June 11-July 6) at the Mayflower are available on 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk.

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