After the third time my daughter was asked whether or not she would see Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical in New York City during our trip, I figured that I’d better book tickets. The show started in London’s West End—a place near and dear to us, having lived there for a few years as newlyweds. Though a relatively young show, it has been wildly successful in both London and on Broadway.
In a nutshell, Matilda is the unwanted, yet gifted, daughter of a used car salesman and a dancer who finds solace in reading books and her vivid imagination—she eventually finds happiness through the power of the written word and attention of a caring teacher. The musical is clever, witty and a treat for all ages.
Booking Matilda Tickets and Choosing Seats
My daughter is 7 years old with a history of being finicky so I lean toward booking the best seats possible in order to avoid issues with her being able to see the performance. According to TickPick, the Shubert Theater is known for great sightlines. Having been there, I believe this is true for adults but not necessarily for little kids mostly because you could just simply lose the lottery with whoever winds up sitting in front of you, which is what happened to us.
I studied the seating map on TickPick which lead me to booking Orchestra seats. Because I booked less than two weeks prior to our trip, most seats were taken, but we wound up with center seats in row S, which are against the section’s back wall. According to what I read, these are pretty good and at about $160 each, not terribly inexpensive. I booked the seats through Telecharge, the company you’ll be directed to via the Matilda the Musical website.
Rows F to M in Orchestra are considered the best, but run significantly higher in cost. At the time out our show I remember that being well over $500 for the two of us and I wasn’t sure that would have been worth it because my daughter had never seen a performance this long at 2 hours and 40 minutes including the intermission. The other benefit of Orchestra seats is that the cast walks the aisles to and from the stage. I would snag an aisle seat and put your kid there, if you have the chance.
When the couple sat down in front of us, I immediately regretted not booking the better seats. And, I will now always wear my hair in a low ponytail whenever going to the theater. The woman had big hair that could have been controlled and the man was large. The seats are only ever so slightly staggered so you just might gaze into the back of someone’s head if you’re not leaning to one side.
I was able to see the stage just fine, though not in full view, but my daughter struggled through the first half. We tried switching seats but she was still fidgeting throughout the entire show. I will say that she didn’t complain about it. The theater does have a limited amount of boosters for small kids but they were gone by the time we arrived. Kind of a bummer for having spent over $300 but I’m OK with it.
The Show Was Amazing
Despite the challenges described above, the show is definitely worth seeing. The lead actress rotates and on the day of our performance, Eliza Holland Madore gave a totally flawless performance. I was in awe of her ability to remember lines, enthusiasm and incredible voice.
The hard work put in by these kids is certainly something to point out to yours after the show. I can’t imagine the hours and hours of rehearsal, lessons and whatever it took for them to take the stage. Not to mention, the girls playing Matilda are all American yet maintain near-perfect (I can say this, having lived in London) British accents.
I read somewhere that the show had been altered for an American audience, removing some of what our family calls British-isms (slang) and downplaying some traditions. I’m curious to see the West End version because I had to lean over an translate a few words for my daughter since she hadn’t yet read the book. I definitely had to tell her what the chokey—the tall, narrow cupboard with glass and nails where Miss Trunchbull sends kids for misbehaving.
In fact, Miss Trunchbull is brilliantly played by a man in the musical. She (he) is hilarious.
Which Age is Appropriate for Matilda?
I’m not kidding when I say that all ages were in attendance. There were well-behaved babies on laps, toddlers, teens, grandparents, couples, and people by themselves. There isn’t offensive language (I do recall a few “bloody hell” type phrases, however) or other inappropriate content for young kids.
That being said, I think my daughter is the perfect age to attend because the girls playing the Matilda are about the same age. There wasn’t a fussy kid in the theater that I could see—all seemed to be laser focused on the show.
It took about 15 minutes for us to walk leisurely to the Shubert Theater from the Mandarin Oriental, New York. Try not to hit too many shops along the way or in Times Square prior because there isn’t a ton of room to store them at your seats!
Matilda the Musical
225 West 44th Street
New York, New York 10036