Brit tuner finds its way to Great White Way
The four little girls who alternate in the title role of the Broadway musical “Matilda” — including Sophia Gennusa, whose name was picked from a hat to perform on opening — had a 10:45pm curfew, but that didn’t stop them from coming out to the show’s opening night party April 11.
Working with kid thesps has its challenges, of course, but plenty of benefits as well. “They’re so excited,” said Lauren Ward, who plays kindly schoolteacher Miss Honey in the show. “After 20 years in the business, it rubs off.”
At the Marriott Marquis soiree, the collaborators still seemed a little surprised by the success of the show, which won raves in London before doing it again on Broadway.
Book writer Dennis Kelly, now at work on the second season of his Channel 4 UK TV skein “Utopia,” said the musical’s commissioning org, the Royal Shakespeare Company, thought his lack of tuner experience might be an asset.
“I said, ‘I don’t know anything about musicals,’ ” he recalled. “They said, ‘Great!’ “
Still, no one took the task lightly. “Sometimes you’d think we were planning the invasion of a country, the way we were sitting around a table wrestling with a particular song or a particular moment,” said composer-lyricist Tim Minchin.
And despite the West End success, there were still plenty of nerves over whether the show would play as well on Broadway.
“It’s quite taxing,” director Matthew Warchus said of the transfer process. “It’s not good for the blood pressure.”