Macabre ‘Matilda’ is a darkly comic fantasy at Costa Mesa’s Segerstrom Center

since 2015 and can be seen in Costa Mesa through late January, pulses to the same macabre, darkly comic beat as Dahl’s other books and their various adaptations to other media.Dennis Kelly (book) and Tim Minchin (music and lyrics) have captured the dark, dry British humor so vital in Dahl’s work, capitalized on by director Matthew Warchus and the show’s striking visual approach by Rob Howell (set and costume design) and Hugh Vanstone (lighting). There’s nothing conventional about author Roald Dahl or his children’s stories, and the stage version of his 1988 novel “Matilda” retains that refreshing sense of being out of the ordinary.From 2011, “Matilda the Musical,” which has been on tour in the U.S.

MATILDA THE MUSICAL

Or, as Mrs. We also get a Potter-like taste of the supernatural when Matilda discovers, and eventually taps, powers of telekinesis. Phelps (Keisha T. Fraser), who becomes a one-woman audience for a story Matilda has begun to create.That story, about the married circus team of an Escape Artist (Justin Packard) and an Acrobat (Kim Sava), shows how Matilda fantasizes about having kind, loving parents, but the tragedy that befalls them, illustrated not just live but through the use of shadow puppets, lets us see that in Matilda’s mind, there’s no way to win. But for most of “Matilda,” she tries to make her way in life with only two friends: her kindhearted teacher, Miss Jennifer Honey (Paula Brancati), and school librarian Mrs. Phelps notes, “not every story has a happy ending.”
Matilda also is keenly aware of injustices, feeling a strong sense of right and wrong, and she loves to create and tell stories — two traits that come to the fore throughout “Matilda” and that guide her destiny while shaping the paths of those around her.Not kiddie fare, for sure, and the look, feel and sound of “Matilda” calls to mind other cultural touchstones, such as the cinematic visions of Tim Burton, the nightmarish worlds of George Orwell’s “1984” and Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” and the kid-fighting-steep-odds theme of “Billy Elliott,” while the drab, prison camplike Crunchem School, with its vicious headmistress, Miss Agatha Trunchbull (Dan Chameroy), is like a demented version of Harry Potter.

★★★&#xbdWhen: 7:30 Friday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.Where: Segerstrom Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.Tickets: $29-$139.Length: 2 hrs., 40 min.Suitability: Adults, teens and older kids (for dark tone and content).Information: 714-556-2787, scfta.org.
The title character gets emotionally battered for the bulk of the story, those responsible don’t exactly get their comeuppance, and the tone is bittersweet, with plenty of emphasis on the bitter.“Matilda” opens with a birthday party attended by screaming little brats whose parents fawn over them, bragging that they’re “special.” Yet Matilda Wormwood (Jenna Weir) is bullied and insulted by her tacky, doltish parents, even though her brilliant mind makes her a human math calculator and has compelled her to speed-read dozens of literary classics. And though the youngest cast members may be little squirts, “Matilda the Musical” isn’t the best choice if you’ve got small fries in tow.