As soon as my ticket was booked for New York I knew that while there I absolutely wanted to see a musical on Broadway. I looked up Broadway Shows on the internet and gave Arabella the list of possibilities of what we could see. As soon as I mentioned Roald Dahl’s Matilda she said, ‘Mum, that was my favourite book when I was growing up, can we see Matilda?’
The Sam S Shubert Theatre was built by the Shubert brothers in tribute to their brother Sam who was killed in a railroad accident at the age of 29. Occupying a choice location in the heart of the theatre district, on West 44th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue, the Shubert Theatre opened on October 2, 1913. It’s famous for holding the longest running show to that date, A Chorus Line, that opened in 1975 and ran for 15 years. The Shubert Theatre has also been used to host the Tony Awards.
To buy tickets for a Broadway show you can go on-line or you can try your luck at a half price ticket stand for the chance to buy tickets to a show for that night’s performance at a greatly reduced price.
The trouble with buying tickets at one of the three TKTS Ticket Booths is that there are queues; especially in July when it’s peak tourist season. Arabella and I weighed up the the saving we would make on the tickets against the queueing that could cost us almost a day of our time in New York and the risk that by the time we made it to the counter there wouldn’t be any tickets left anyway.
We decided queuing in the heat wasn’t quite for us and so we ordered our tickets on-line. Tickets aren’t cheap and range in price from just over $100 to sit on the sides at the rear of the theatre to nearly $300 if you want to sit in the middle and be close to the stage – as we did!
We ended up with tickets to a Sunday 3pm performance of Matilda. We took the subway (or several subways) to the Shubert Theatre and hadn’t quite calculated enough time to get there so we were as usual, rushing, and only arrived about 10 minutes before the show started. It did seem to me that when ticket-holders arrive at the Theatre you have to queue outside and then a few minutes before the show starts, the doors are opened and there’s a mad rush to get to your seat.
We collected our tickets from the box office, managed to find the restroom (yeah – there is one), buy a bottle of water for the outrageous price of $5.00 and then were shown to our seats.
Our seats were excellent. They were centre stage and just a few rows from the front. Photography is not allowed at any stage during the show but I did manage to take one shot of the stage before the musical began.
I have seen the movie, Matilda, and loved it as a family film but wasn’t sure what to expect from the musical. I knew Australian, Tim Minchin had written the music and lyrics for Matilda and having seen the film I was expecting a young cast but apart from that I knew very little.
I have to say that from the very beginning, Matilda is amazing. Yes, it’s a very young cast and I was overwhelmed by the talent of the children who play their roles so convincingly and genuinely. There are four young girls all aged between nine and 10 who have the role of playing Matilda. Ava Ulloa, who at the age of just nine has made her debut on Broadway, played the role of Matilda on the day we saw the show. She was just gorgeous with cheeks pitted with dimples, a pitch-perfect singing voice and a wonderfully expressive face.
There are quite a few children in the show and they do some pretty challenging work in scenes like leaping over the vault in physical education, climbing up metal frames (more scaffolding!) and swinging on rope swings in unison – all while singing!
And without detracting from what a superb job the children do, I think the star of the show is definitely Christopher Sieber who plays the role of Miss Trunchbull. He has appeared in many theatre productions on Broadway and in the West End and has a CV as long as your arm that also includes film and TV credits. He is a scene-stealer.
If you can manage it, and you are able to see Matilda, I’d recommend trying to sit as close to Row G as possible. Because during the performance the actors come down off the stage and deliver their lines in front of Row G. I had Miss Trunchbull standing so close to me I could have touched her (him) and I thought that was extremely special for my first time in a Broadway audience.
New York has so much to offer that when you visit you just know you’re not going to be able to see and do it all and it’s unfortunately a case of prioritising your list. We kept ‘Broadway musical’ on our list and we were very pleased we did. It was one of the most special and memorable things we experienced on our visit.
Matilda on Broadway: Sam S Shubert Theatre – 225 West 44th Street, Midtown Manhattan, New York City