Interview: Carly Thoms - Miss Honey in Matilda The Musical

Matilda The Musical is the multi award-winning musical from the Royal Shakespeare Company, inspired by the beloved book by the incomparable Roald Dahl.

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With book by Dennis Kelly and original songs by Tim MinchinMatilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Winner of over 85 international awards, including 16 for Best MusicalMatilda The Musical continues to delight audiences in London, Australia and on tour around the USA.

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Celebritain visited Curve Leicester where the new production will open this March, and spoke to Carly Thoms who plays Miss Honey.

 

Welcome to Leicester! How are you finding it here?

It’s a great, vibrant city so it’s great to be here. I actually met my partner here three years ago so I have an affinity with it. We met in panto at De Montfort Hall.

 

Have you been able to get out, did you get to go to the comedy festival?

I didn’t! We’ve been working really hard in tech rehearsals here at Curve everyday so no I haven’t got out, but I’ve seen the venues around here including Curve have had some great things going on.

 

How are rehearsals going?

It’s quite a technical show, so we have four weeks of tech rehearsals and they’re going really well. It’s our first venue, so everybody is finding their feet but it is all working out well so far.  In total before we open we will have done four full runs, we did two runs of Act One yesterday and today we’re doing Act Two, so there is a lot of rehearsals.

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Is it exhausting?

Yes, physically and mentally. It’s long hours and you have to be mentally on it the entire time because of all of the physical and technical stuff going on around you.  Once we begin, we tour for eighteen months and it is tiring and challenging, but we get Sundays off! It’s just so great being a part of Matilda and my family are so supportive, it’s not like you can’t get a train and see them!

 

When you move location, how long do you have to rehearse before you’re back on stage again?

Normally before we go on stage, set up begins on a Sunday or Monday and we’ll be back on stage come the Tuesday or Wednesday. Once we’re on, we’re on!

 

To what extent are you rehearsing with the children?

They’re here for all of it, the same hours that we do. They’re amazing, they are so focussed. As Miss Honey I work with them all the time and they’re incredible, they’re so on it.  Obviously they break for schooling and things but it all works out really well.

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What do you make to Curve, it’s a very different and innovative theatre, isn’t it?

Yes I’m really enjoying the fact that it’s so open and it feels like a hub for the community and creativity. There are so many things going on here at one time, it’s not just us and so it’s a really great place and they’re producing their own stuff now, it is very impressive.

 

There is an educational element to the tour too, isn’t there?

Yes so our Mrs Phelps, the librarian in the story, goes out and gets to meet local school and yes I think it’s really important because one of the things Matilda does is it tries to get young people into theatre, and also being a book it links the education and the arts. It’s great, especially now where there are lots of arts cuts happening, it is great to get the arts into schools.

 

The show has won countless awards for previous productions of it, does that bring pressure?

You can choose to look at it in two different ways. You can either think ‘oh god that’s so much pressure, can we achieve it?’ or you can see it that we’re on a show that we should be proud of. The team that are with us, many have been with the show from day one so it really is that production going out on the road, around the country.

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Taking Matilda on tour, means making it more accessible to more people.  What are your thoughts on bringing it to a city like this?

People do travel to London to see it, but having the opportunity to bring it to locations around the UK is very important.  People should be accessible to people throughout the Country, not only those who can get to London. I think because this story has such wide appeal as well, there really is something here for everyone.  I’m so pleased it is getting out there.

 

It is a children’s book, what makes it so popular with adults?

I think it’s Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly and their writing.  The writing of it is so clever, a lot of it gets adults to look at themselves and their choices and think ‘oh god what am I doing’?  When I Grow Up is my standout song and that’s definitely about reflecting and thinking about have you lost that childlike thing through your life. When I first saw it, I was shocked at the emotion that I felt. You can think it’s a kid’s story but it resonates with everyone.  The characters are so complex and intricate, there is layer after layer in it. Even now I hear things that I didn’t notice previously.

 

Can you describe Miss Honey in your own words?

Humble…. Slightly broken.  She’s kind and caring and gentle.

 

How do you as an actress fulfil the role of someone who is humble and broken?

Seeing Matilda there and the children being such a big part of this production, just for me personally feeling proud of them every day when they get things right you start to feel like Miss Honey! It’s that connection with the kids and having that truthful feeling with the children that brings the character out.

 

Can you tell us about a special moment in Matilda, for you?

There’s a song that Matilda sings called Quiet and I think it’s a real insight into how her mind works, and also a bit of a comment on the world today of everything happening and she just stands and sings this song and everything stops for her and I think a lot of people can relate to that. So much going on, so much for Matilda because she’s magical, but everyone can relate to that and I get very emotional in it.  I always think ‘come on, control youself’.  I have to centre myself before the next part of the story.

 

Your production hasn’t begun yet, but how do audiences respond to Matilda?

I know as an audience member previously, audiences really are challenged by Tim Minchin’s writing. Sometimes with musicals you think it’s going to be ‘I looove youuuuu’ simplistic songs and writing and Matilda challenges every aspect of what you think a musical should be.

 

For more details and tickets, visit curveleicester.co.uk.  For more information on the Matilda educational workshops, click here.