Hooray! Matilda the Musical is Back at the Portland Playhouse

Inside a little old church in the King neighborhood of north Portland, magic is happening! Portland Playhouse is located here, and their production of Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical was so popular last fall, every performance sold out. Luckily, it’s been brought back for a month of encore performances, running June 7-30.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Ely Moreno

My 11-year-old niece, Nalani and I attended the Saturday matinee and we both thought it was fabulous! Nalani had seen the film version on Netflix numerous times, but there’s nothing quite like live theater. I was thrilled when early on in Act Two, she leaned over and whispered in my ear excitedly, “This is so much more good than the movie!”

That’s the magic of live theater — you don’t just watch a show, you are part of it. And when the play is full of children, outrageously funny stories and a talented adult cast headed by Portland musical theater legend Susannah Mars, the magic is even better. 

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Matilda Wormwood is a little genius with a big imagination. Neglected by her horrible parents, her only friends in the world are books and a kind-hearted librarian, until she starts school. There, she finds friendship in classmates and her teacher, Miss Honey, and a nemesis in the scrumptiously evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. It’s a story of courage, resilience, kindness, and a little revolution, and proves that “even if you’re little, you can do a lot.”  

Courtesy of Shawnte Sims

With eight performances a week, including matinees on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm, director Brian Weaver chose two casts of children and three different girls to play the title role. Most of the cast from the 2023 production has returned, including standout newcomer, fourth-grader Georgia Krugel. This pint-sized darling was so good as Matilda, we sometimes forgot we were watching an actor in a play.

In the intimate theater space with steep stadium seating, every seat in the house is a good one. Even the shortest kiddo will be able to see the stage, no matter who sits in front of them. Seating is general admission and the parking is sparse (street parking or the lot at Martin Luther King Jr. elementary school two blocks north.) Pro tip: I highly recommend arriving 20-30 minutes early to get in, grab your seats and dig into your first bowl of yummy bottomless popcorn.  

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If You Go

Courtesy of Shawnte Sims
  • At this writing, tickets are still available and range in price between $25 to $59.95, with $5 tickets available for Oregon Trail cardholders
  • The show is recommended for ages 6 and up. There’s a bit of violence and a lot of name calling, but it’s all ridiculously theatrical.
  • Matilda has a run time of two-and-a-half-hours (with one intermission). 
  • Note: The show contains flashing lights and haze that may trigger people with certain health conditions, but it’s brief.
Elizabeth Ely Moreno
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