I still remember seeing Annie on stage for the first time when I was a little girl. My sisters and I brought home the cast recording with its bright red and white cover and spun it endlessly on our record player. We sang “It’s A Hard Knock Life” with the conviction of Depression-era orphans.
With those memories of Annie still playing in my mind, I jumped at the chance to take my seven-year-old daughter Rowan to see Matilda The Musical, based on the book by Roald Dahl. It’s playing at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco through August 15th.
At the heart of the story is Matilda, a five-year-old prodigy whose idiotic parents can’t understand why she loves to read so much. When Matilda begins school, her sweet teacher Miss Honey recognizes her brilliance and looks out for her. But the school is ruled by an evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. She hates the children and punishes them by locking them in the dreaded “Chokey.”
Matilda isn’t just smart. She has a fierce mischievous streak, which she uses to put bullies in their place. And that’s just what my daughter Rowan likes best about the character. “My favorite part was when Matilda played tricks on her dad," Rowan said. "I liked when she put glue in his hat and turned his hair green.” I am now wondering if maybe I should lock up our supply of crazy glue.
The theater was filled with lots of little Matilda fans the Sunday matinee performance I attended, including Josie Marroquin, 7, from San Francisco. “My favorite character is Matilda because she’s brave and smart,” Josie said to me. Josie's favorite part is when Matilda wowed Miss Honey with her mastery of her “times tables.” That thrills Josie, because she’s working on her own times tables, said her grandfather Rex Ridgeway. Personally, I think every little girl needs a heroine who is known for her superior math skills.