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Backstage – #MatildaOnTour

Muddy's feeling a little bit naughty after securing a backstage blogger's pass to #MatildaOnTour at Birmingham Hippodrome! Fancy a sneak peek?

Thinking of taking the kids to see Matilda The Musical over the summer hols?

Photo by Manuel Harlan

Well, the good news is you don’t need to head over to the West End as the RSC’s first ever UK & Ireland national tour has just arrived in our neck of the woods. Their multi award-winning adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book is currently at Birmingham Hippodrome for the duration of school break (until September 8). And this week Muddy received the loveliest invite –  a rare glimpse behind-the-scenes. I’m a bit of a super fan.

Straight after school my very own 9-year-old ‘miracle’ – or should that be ‘maggot’ – and I hopped onto the train to New Street. A group of us London and Midlands-based bloggers met Matilda On Tour’s Stage Manager, Howard Williamson, and Assistant Company Manager, Emily Dellar, in the Hippodrome’s new Coffee Bar over a Flat White and chocolate fudge cake – channelling our inner Bruce Bogtrotter.

We spotted this amusing sign en route to our Backstage Tour of the Wings, Prompt Corner and Wardrobe Village.

Matilda On Tour is a huuuuge operation with 20 adult cast members, 26 children, split into two teams, 11 musicians in the live band, and 31 touring staff.

It was awesome to see the incredible detail that goes into the automated set on stage. We could touch the Scrabble tiles, peer into the TV’s and rifle through the bills on Miss Trunchbull’s desk, which are real by the way. There are around 160 Scrabble tile word combinations.

Miss Trunchbull’s favourite tipple

This is what it looks like to be on stage looking out at the auditorium.

Every year 3,780 paper aeroplanes are flown into the auditorium during Revolting Children. They’re each written on a school report. This one, given to my daughter, is Bruce Bogtrotter’s.

Backstage in the Wardrobe Trundler, the children’s school uniforms were laid out ready for their quick change – the quickest ever change time is 10 seconds!

Quentin Blake actually designed the Crunchem Hall School badge on the children’s grey school blazers.

The four young actresses who take it in turn to play Matilda – Annalise Bradbury, Lara Cohen. Poppy Jones and Nicola Turner – are all just 10 and 11-years-olds. The company has its own tutors and chaperones, and the children are schooled in the daytime during the week before performances.

I love that Miss Honey and Matilda enjoy a real cup of hot tea with milk and a biscuit during the performance of My House (below).

Photo by Manuel Harlan

Wardrobe malfunctions mostly appear to involve Rudolpho – Mrs Wormwood’s racy ballroom dancing partner played by Matt Gillett below –  splitting the seams of his erm, rather tight-fitting leather pants.

Photo by Manuel Harlan

We met the adult cast and dance captain Sam Lathwood (in the black t-shirt) arriving for their pre-show warm-up.

Here they are embarking on a ‘phys-ed’ style work out.

Ninety-minutes later they were back on stage in full make-up and costume. That’s showbiz for you. It was a magical experience and a really fascinating insight into what goes into the making of every performance. Go see if it you can, we stayed on to watch the show. It’s one of the most irresistibly funny and moving child-friendly musicals we’ve seen. Read our Matilda the Musical review here.

Showtime!

Matilda The Musical is on now and runs at Birmingham Hippodrome, Hurst Street, B5 4TB, until September 8, birminghamhippodrome

For the UK & Ireland Tour schedule ending in August 2019 see here.

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