Matilda the Musical Is Being De-Britished So That Insensible Americans Can Understand It


The Broadway version of Matilda the Musical is trying to exorcise its thornier British-isms before opening for thick-skulled, waxy-eared American audiences, among which there is hardly a single theatergoer with a real appreciation for the British idiom.

The musical, based more faithfully on the children’s novel by Roald Dahl than the 1996 movie with newly reunited (?) chuckle couple Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, was a big hit on London’s West End, but writer Tim Minchin has been worried that Matilda‘s British resplendence might be too searingly bright for American eyes. He told the Telegraph:

It’s being changed a little. There are a few lyrics that they’re just not hearing because they’re so dense and require thinning out.

Minchin added that the changes are being made as preview audiences watch the show in New York. British accents — choked with imperial majesty, toffee, and shortbread — have a long and storied tradition of sounding utterly nonsensical to the average American, to whom a Briton’s voice sounds more or less like Earl Grey tea being gargling vigorously. In order to make Matilda‘s lyrical whimsies more palatable, Minchin has been trying to thin some of its British out (the girls cast as Matilda will, however, keep their English accents so that the show doesn’t simply devolve into a tawdry American vaudeville performance).

Matilda the musical is ‘thinned out’ for Americans [Telegraph]

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