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Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical - What We Know So Far

"Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" is an upcoming movie musical based on a West End and Broadway musical, which is based on the 1996 film. And, of course, the '90s film version is itself based on Roald Dahl's 1988 children's fantasy novel. Given that this particular story features so many adaptations in various media forms, and how all of Dahl's correlated media weirdly gravitates toward magical child abuse, it's likely that most potential viewers have interacted with the franchise in one way or another, or at the very least know what to expect when Dahl's name is dropped. 

Still, in case that's not the situation, no worries! We're here to serve as a primer for all things "Matilda" musical-related. Here's a rundown of everything we know about the latest entry into Dahl's story, who's who in the star-studded cast, and what we can look forward to in regard to the musical's plot.

What is the release date for Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical?

"Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" is set for a release in the U.S. on December 6, 2022, where it will be accessible via Netflix, just in time for families across the country to enjoy a little bit of child endangerment before jolly old Saint Nicholas comes to town. This release date has been a long time in the making, as the musical has been in Hollywood's development hell for nearly a decade — or at least, in some form of exhausting hiatus, considering how the script was penned in 2013, according to Broadway.com.

Imagine how many Matildas aged out of the opportunity in that span of time? At least some of them have graduated college now, surely. It's "Artemis Fowl" all over again (for the curious, that 20-year debacle was well chronicled by Entertainment Weekly). At least this production seems to be keeping the source material in mind. 

What is the plot of Matilda the Musical?

The story of "Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" is most likely going to mirror the story told in the stage adaptation of the 1996 film. That is to say, it's a little different than what mainstream audiences are familiar with — but close enough that no one will be inspired to storm social media. Probably. With this assumption in mind, here's a brief synopsis of the musical.

The plot sees Matilda from birth to adolescence. During this time, her father and mother exclusively sideline her emotional and physical needs. For anyone who has not seen or read any version of this story, imagine how the Dursleys treat Harry Potter – it's basically the same situation. Matilda suffers at school, too. Her principal, Miss Trunchbull, clearly believes in excessive corporal punishment. Everything this woman does is in the name of torturing children. Aside from this, Matilda happens to be both a child prodigy and a literal magic wielder. She uses both of these traits, as well as her rebellious streak, to fight back against her parents and her evil principal. Along the way, she inspires her fellow students to do the same, and she's often supported by Miss Honey, the only kind adult in the entire narrative, who eventually takes her in.

Given that this latest adaptation has a musical, a movie, and a book to draw from, it's likely that it will cherry-pick its favorite aspects of each version to become something tangentially new.

Who is starring in Matilda the Musical?

As noted by IMDb, the entire cast of "Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" is officially available. Starring as the titular Matilda Wormwood is Alisha Weir, a relative newcomer to the performance industry. Miss Trunchbull, the antagonistic principal who is traditionally portrayed by a man in comic drag in the stage rendition, is Emma Thompson, an actress who's starred in everything from "Saving Mr. Banks" to "Sense and Sensibility." Miss Honey, the kindly yet shy teacher, is Lashana Lynch, who recently starred in "The Woman King" and "Captain Marvel."

Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood, Matilda's abusive parents, are Stephen Graham and Andrea Riseborough, respectively. Graham has appeared in popular projects such as "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," and Riseborough has appeared in notable productions such as "Black Mirror" and "Oblivion." Other adult performers attached to "Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" are Katherine Kingsley and Nick Owenford. Although not listed here, know that the ensemble of this piece will be comprised of dozens of singing and dancing "revolting" children.

Who is directing Matilda the Musical?

Fortunately for musical fans, the director behind "Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" has a long history with the stage. Matthew Warchus is a Tony and Olivier Award-winning theatrical director, with his long list of credits including professional productions of "Hamlet," "Groundhog Day" (a musical based on the Bill Murray film), "Boeing Boeing," "God of Carnage," "The Lord of the Rings" (a musical based on J. R. R. Tolkien's novel in five parts), and, as fate would have it, "Matilda." According to Broadway.com, Warchus has been attached to direct "Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" since 2013, when he directed the stage production. 

Warchus is also the current artistic director of the Old Vic, a not-for-profit theatre in London that, according to its website, is "an independent creative powerhouse for entertainment and education, here to enable anyone to experience, make and benefit from theatre." With all this in mind, it seems as though Netflix's upcoming musical is in perfect hands.

Is there a trailer for Matilda the Musical?

Netflix released a full trailer for "Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" in October. Without retreading familiar territory too much, the trailer showcases performances from the entire cast, with an emphasis on Alisha Weir, Lashana Lynch, and Emma Thompson. Viewers are treated to a few of the most memorable spectacles from previous iterations, including Miss Trunchbull grabbing a child by her pigtails and launching her like a discus, and Bruce Bogtrotter (Charlie Hodson-Prior), one of Matilda's fellow students, trying to survive Miss Trunchbull's torture-by-chocolate-cake.

There are snippets of Matilda's antics, too, like how she dyes her father's hair green. There's also a terrifying moment of the little psychic using her abilities to create some kind of specter to assault Miss Trunchbull. Is it made of chains or pencil lead? We're not sure, but it does not look friendly. And, of course, the entire trailer is saturated in music. The song most prominently featured is "Revolting Children," which is basically a children's pop variation of the rebellion in "Les Misérables." The wary viewer will note that, unlike Marius (Eddie Redmayne) and Enjolras (Aaron Tveit), Matilda's crew gets a happier ending. 

What will Matilda the Musical be rated?

According to IMDb, "Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical" is rated PG for "thematic elements, exaggerated bullying, and some language." Considering how this is a story about child abuse, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there will be some darker subject matter throughout. As for the bullying, in the context of this particular tale, that just means physical child abuse, rather than emotional. It's not currently clear what is meant by "some language," but given that every iteration of Roald Dahl's story is intended as media that children can safely consume, don't expect anything drastic. Cautious parents can wait for the specifics to populate in the IMDb's parental guidance section once the movie hits streaming platforms. 

All that aside, it's a family-friendly musical, folks. It's going to be an easy ride. There's singing and dancing and a happy ending for all who are deserving. The strongest trigger warning we can really offer is that anyone who's afraid of theatre kids should steer well clear.