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Netflix has finally announced a release date for the arrival of Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical on the streaming service in the UK and Ireland.
Although the movie, based on the hit stage musical and starring Alisha Weir, Emma Thompson and Lashana Lynch, has been available to Netflix subscribers elsewhere since December 2022, the exclusive cinema release in the UK and Ireland caused a delay to its arrival on Netflix locally.
But the wait is almost over - the movie will be released on Netflix UK and Ireland on Sunday, 25 June.
The film is an adaptation of stage show Matilda the Musical, and features music and lyrics by Tim Minchin and a screenplay by Dennis Kelly, who wrote the book for the award-winning show. Australian comedian and musician Minchin has also written several new songs for the film.
Matthew Warchus, who directed the original stage show and also 2014 comedy-drama Pride, returns to direct the screen adaptation.
What's the plot of Matilda the Musical?
The musical is an adaptation of Matilda, the last children’s novel written by author Roald Dahl. The book tells the story of Matilda Wormwood, a precocious young girl with a voracious appetite for reading. When are parents aren’t bullying her they are ignoring her, but her potential is spotted by teacher Miss Honey who, against the wishes of tyrannical headmistress Miss Trunchbull and the Wormwoods, nurtures her talents – which are soon revealed to include the power of telekinesis.
While the basis of the 1988 novel is the same as the story of the musical, Kelly and Minchin added a subplot about an acrobat and an escapologist which highlights Matilda's peculiar abilities and acts as a back story for several major characters.
After opening in Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2010, the Royal Shakespeare Company production opened in the West End in November 2011 and has played at the Cambridge Theatre ever since, clocking up more than 4,000 performances. After the West End production won a then-record seven Olivier Awards in 2012, the show opened on Broadway in 2013 and picked up five Tony Awards.
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Matilda the Musical - Rated and reviewed
Rotten Tomatoes Fan Score: 92%
IMDB rating: 7.1/10
What the critics said: “The gleefully sly comedy kindred spirits of Emma Thompson and Tim Minchin come together to form the film’s bedrock of naughtiness.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 4/5)
"Lashana Lynch is lovely, and an impressive singer as Miss Honey, playing against her usual action heroine type." (Helen O'Hara, Empire, 3/5)
"Boy, are these kids talented – to the degree that they retroactively made me feel ashamed of my own useless childhood. Weir, who’s perfectly cast, invests equally in Matilda’s mischief as she does her loneliness." (Clarisse Loughrey, Independent, 4/5)
Who's in the cast of Matilda the Musical?
Emma Thompson plays Miss Trunchbull
Thompson’s casting marks a departure from the stage productions of Matilda in that the role of the dictatorial headteacher has always been played by a man – in fact, Doctor Foster star Bertie Carvel originated the role back in 2010.
That was also originally the case with this adaptation of the film, with Ralph Fiennes being cast as the hammer-throwing headmistress in May 2020. But in January 2021, the producers announced that Thompson would be taking the role instead.
The Oscar-winning Love Actually and Saving Mr Banks star is barely recognisable as the tyrannical teacher, but has got experience when it comes to playing heavily disguised characters in children’s movies, whether it’s bottle-lensed Professor Sybill Trelawney in the Harry Potter films or snaggletoothed childminder Nanny McPhee.
Lashana Lynch plays Miss Honey
Lashana Lynch, who plays kindly teacher Miss Honey, is best known for playing 00 agent Nomi in the most recent James Bond outing No Time to Die. She has also played Maria Rambeau, later Captain Marvel, in the films Captain Marvel, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and on television played Rosaline Capulet in Still Star-Crossed and Arjana Pike in Bullerproof.
Alisha Weir plays Matilda Wormwood
12-year-old Dublin actress Alisha Weir takes the title role in the movie adaptation. Weir has previously played Molly in Annie at the Dublin National Concert Hall and also appeared in the musical Once in her home city.
Stephen Graham plays Mr Wormwood
One of Britain’s most in-demand actors, Stephen Graham has been nominated for seven BAFTAs in a career that has spanned comedy, thrillers and drama like Shane Meadows’ This Is England series in which he played racist skinhead Andrew ‘Combo’ Gascoigne.
Graham has had success on both sides of the Atlantic, playing gangster Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire and real-life mob boss Anthony 'Tony Pro' Provenzano in Martin Scorcese’s movie The Irishman. Closer to home, he’s best remembered for playing John Corbett in Line of Duty, Detective Dave Kelly in ITV true-crime drama Little Boy Blue and, most recently, Haydn Stagg in the final series of Peaky Blinders. He's also had roles in prison drama Time and Covid-19 film Help, both of which earned BAFTA nominations.
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Andrea Riseborough plays Mrs Wormwood
Newcastle-born actress Andrea Riseborough rose to prominence, and earned a BAFTA nomination, for playing the young Margaret Thatcher in BBC Four’s 2008 movie The Long Walk to Finchley. She played Dawn in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky and also appeared in Made in Dagenham, Birdman, Battle of the Sexes and as Stalin’s daughter Svetlana in The Death of Stalin.
On television she has starred in Netflix drama Bloodline, miniseries Waco and Italian crime drama ZeroZeroZero.
Also among the cast are Sindhu Vee (Starstruck, Sex Education) as Mrs Phelps, Lauren Alexander as The Acrobat and Carl Spencer as Magnus the Escapologist, as well as a cast of around 200 children as the pupils of Crunchem Hall.
What is the release date of Matilda the Musical?
Matilda the Musical will be released on Netflix on Sunday, 25 June, 2023.
The film was originally released in cinemas in the UK and Ireland on 25 November 2022, and to Netflix on Christmas Day in the United States, Canada, and Australia. However contractual matters regarding the film's theatrical release in the UK and Ireland meant that is hadn't been available to the streaming service until now.
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Have there been other adaptations of Matilda?
In 1996, Matilda was made into a movie directed by and starring Danny DeVito as Mr Wormwood, Rhea Perlman as Mrs Wormwood, Pam Ferris as Miss Trunchbull, Mara Wilson as Matilda and Embeth Davidtz as Miss Honey.
In 2014, Kate Winslet narrated an audiobook of Matilda, and in 2018 Netfix was reported to be developing an animated series based on the book, although this has yet to materialise.
A musical version, produced by the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham, had also been produced as early as 1990 and toured the UK to mixed reviews.
Watch Roald Dahl's Matilda the Musical on Netflix from Sunday 25 June.