Paula Brancati plays the beloved Miss Honey in the stage musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic, "Matilda"
Actor Talks Working With Kids, Roald Dahl, and ‘Matilda’
Most of us know the story of “Matilda”: A young girl with magical powers helps to overthrow a tyrannical headmistress and changes her own destiny, with the help of a kind, loving teacher to guide her along the way.
That teacher, Miss Honey, is one of the main reasons Matilda finds her voice, and is a pure light amongst the darker tendencies of the show.
Paula Brancati, who delights audiences as Miss Honey in “Matilda the Musical,” took a break from her busy rehearsal schedule to chat about Miss Honey, the kids in the show and everything “Matilda.”
My favorite “Matilda” character has always been Miss Honey. Which one did you love most when you first read it?
Brancati: My favorite character is Matilda. Especially in the way she’s portrayed in the musical, because it really peels back the layers one at a time through Tim Minchin’s songs. She has incredible anthems like “Naughty,” where she’s so mischievous, and “Quiet” in the second act, that is so moving and speaks to her character and her strength.
What’s your take on the relationship between Matilda and Miss Honey?
You know, she’s like this beacon for Matilda, so it’s really interesting how Matilda is that for her. They really are these equals, who are the first people in their lives to see the other as a fully realized person. I don’t think they’ve ever truly felt like they’ve been seen, so they need each other.
The original books by Roald Dahl were pretty dark. Do you think there’s anything especially Roald Dahl-esque in this show?
It’s often really dark material, but it’s a ‘family show’ and it’s a story that kids read. In this show, the Wormwoods are larger than life characters and they’re terrifying. I feel like the show in a lot of ways is from Matilda’s perspective, just even the way the set design is, and Miss Trunchbull’s costume. All of it is very true to the illustrations from the book. I think it really honors his vision when he wrote it. It feels like a really good representation of the book.
What’s it like to work with so many kids?
It’s amazing. The ensemble kids are so impressive to me. They work so hard, and the choreography is so special and it’s so unique and it’s so sharp, tricky and specific and they pull it off so wonderfully. And the three Matildas are amazing and it’s nothing short of incredible what they’re doing, and each of them bring their own personality to it and it keeps it really fresh for me, who gets to work with each of them and develop my own relationship with them.
“Matilda the Musical” runs Jan. 12-15 at Popejoy Hall. Click here to buy tickets and to learn more.