'Matilda the Musical' Brings on the Magic

By Eberson, Sharon | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 29, 2016 | Go to article overview

'Matilda the Musical' Brings on the Magic


Eberson, Sharon, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Paula Brancati is still attending school, but Degrassi Community School and Crunchem Hall are as different as the dreadlocks sported by Jane Vaughn and the prim blond wig atop Miss Honey's head.

"Matilda the Musical" is hitting reset with its cast as it heads to Pittsburgh, and Ms. Brancati is among the newcomers. It's also the first musical tour for the 27-year-old Ontario native, best known for her years on the Canadian TV series "Degrassi: The Next Generation."

In the stage version of "Matilda," based on Roald Dahl's dark and magical tale of an empowered and empowering little girl, Ms. Brancati plays the timid schoolteacher who recognizes Matilda's gifts.

"Miss Honey admires her and wants to be more like her, and that's what's so special about the show, is seeing everyone come out the other side and learning from Matilda, even though she's undergone a lot of hardships," Ms. Brancati said by phone from Cleveland.

She was speaking the night before her first appearance as Miss Honey, after weeks of prep work with other new cast members in New York City.

"I'm really over the moon," she said. "We're all like, 'Is it real?' We had our wig fitting the other day - I get to be a full blonde in this - so it's a real treat. I'll see if blondes really do have all the fun."

She was so giddy about her upcoming debut as Miss Honey - a character who has some troubles when we meet her and everyone's nemesis, the tyrannical headmistress Miss Trunchbull.

Miss Honey sings ballads of love and pleading, such as "This Little Girl" and "My House." But the song "Revolting Children" - as in revolution - is Ms. Brancati's favorite.

"It's the one I do my workout to, it's so empowering," she said. "My favorite line in the show is, 'Nobody but me is going to change my story.' I think that sort of is the hook of the show. Bullying is timeless, and Miss Trunchbull is a classic bully. Matilda is deeply bullied and she's so resilient. She's a beacon of hope for her fellow students and certainly for Miss Honey."

"Matilda" won the Olivier Award for best musical and lost to "Kinky Boots" at the 2013 Tony Awards. …

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