PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: Matilda: Oh, You Beautiful Dahl

By Harry Haun
12 Apr 2013

Gabriel Ebert
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

One member of the house staff revealed that Carvel is so focused when he makes his hurried exits through the theatre as Miss Trunchbull that he makes a beeline straight to the ladies' room downstairs. (It happens to be the fastest route backstage.)

Gabriel Ebert rates his share of boos, too, as Matilda's disinterested and belittling dad. Even the actor admitted, "At first, it was tough to get into the character because he sorta embodies the things I dislike the most—which are daftness and cruelty—but now I'm starting to really relish that, and I'm having a good time being cruel. He has a confidence I couldn't dream of having—just the conviction of the fact that he's right, and, of course, he's always proven wrong. Even with that, he manages to maintain this steadfast quality of pride, which I admire—from afar. Of course, I wouldn't want to hang out with him necessarily, but I admire that chutzpah."

But would he say that the marriage he makes with Lesli Margherita on stage is a happy one? "It's a happy marriage as actors because I think that Lesli is tops. On stage, and throughout the rehearsal process, we found we don't listen to each other much as husband and wife—but some people live their whole lives that way. It's a real thing."

As Matilda's librarian friend, Karen Aldridge is doing her first musical as well as her first Broadway show. She has her husband to thank for that: "My agent told me there was an audition for a musical, and I told her no. Then I listened to my husband. He encouraged me to put something on tape. I thought it was a shot in the dark. But no."

She didn't have to go far to research the role. "I have an aunt who's a librarian, and that's what I wanted to be up until grad school. I wanted to study library science."

The other bright spot in Matilda's life, Miss Honey, is played by Ward, who got sample reactions on both sides of the pond. "Audiences are more vocal here," she reported. "They're more eager to really laugh and clap. They're just louder."