Juan Diego’s “Matilda: The Musical” cast members offer their expert critiques on the newly-released Netflix film of the theatrical sensation


The release of the “Matilda: The Musical” movie adaptation in December 2022 coincidentally occurred in the same year that Juan Diego Catholic High School reproduced the Royal Shakespeare Company sensation on the Auditorium stage. The coincidence is nearly as shocking as when the character Matilda unexpectedly retold the real life story of her teacher, Ms. Honey, in the play.

While the movie and its cast are praised by numerous entertainment critics ranging from the Los Angeles Times to The Hollywood Reporter, the student cast members that partook in Juan Diego’s “Matilda” musical production offer their own expert critiques on the overall performance of the movie in bringing the beloved musical from the stage to the streaming platform. 


Matilda Wormwood (Alisha Weir) shares a fantastical tale with Mrs. Phelps (Sindhu Vee)

In terms of the character design of the film, Juan Diego junior and cast member Avery Johnston said that “they made some really good decisions with the changes (that) they made. I really loved what they did with who I originally played in the musical, ‘Mrs. Phelps’, (and) how she was in a van instead of the library. I can’t say exactly why, I just really loved that decision.”




Jackson Shemwell, a senior cast member who played ‘Miss Trunchbull’ in the play, commented that “I really liked ‘Trunchbull’,… she’s really fun to watch. It was kind of interesting to see what was different from our show and what was the same… (and) it was kind of cool knowing everything about it. I knew almost every lyric, which was funny.”

Emma Thompson and Jackson Shemwell embodying the principal of Crunchem Hall and maggot-detesting ‘Ms. Trunchbull’.


Johnston added that “there was one at the end which was not in the original Musical which I thought was actually really cute because it showed Matilda’s transition going from the abusive life of her parents to the more caring life of her living with Ms. Honey.”


Mr. Wormwood (Stephen Graham) and Mrs. Wormwood (Andrea Riseborough) enjoy some “tele”, with a certain Michael Wormwood missing in the background.



However, Shemwell said that “a lot of the songs were cut out…’Pathetic’ was cut out…and ‘Loud’, (and all) of like big ones, so that made me sad” and how “they didn’t include Michael, and Matilda’s mom wasn’t included that much.”





Mrs. Wormwood (Elise Backer) and Rudolpho (KAZ Swick) recite their dance routine.



Catelin Raven, a senior cast member who played ‘Matilda’ in the production, agreed that “the movie should have had ‘Loud’ in it,” where Mrs. Wormwood and Rudolpho perform their musical routine in front of Miss Honey. 





Nevertheless, Raven said that she’d seen “clips of the ‘Little Red Beret Girl’. Love her. Stand her. She’s great, stole the show” and that ‘Matilda’ was “definitely one of my favorite shows I’ve done here.”


The children at Crunchem Hall (Juan Diego ensemble cast XXX List everyone) sing in chorus under the watchful eye of Ms. Trunchbull (Jackson Shemwell).


Shemwell added that “I’d say that I really liked being a part of…our ‘Matilda’ at school more and, (while) watching this one, I was like ‘okay, I’m glad that like we didn’t really do it like this, not to be rude!’”






Nevertheless, senior cast member Matthew Chiazzese, who played ‘Mr. Wormwood’, said that “I liked it. I’m a big movie guy and I just think (that) you can do more movies than you can in a stage-place…. They made the grandeness of the story and the atmosphere better in the movie than I think you could (ever do) on the stage.”

Stephen Graham and Matthew Chiazzese play the fraudulent and “tele-loving” car salesman Mr. Wormwood.


Shemwell added that “It still was a really good production. There were some really cool songs. I really liked ‘Revolting Children’, that was really good.”


Chiazzese later commented that “I’m not biased at all, but it should have had the parents more (in it).”


Overall, it seems like the movie adaptation has been “a little bit naughty” with missing out on the beloved key songs performed in the original script, but the overall approval given by Juan Diego’s cast members of the film make it a worthwhile watch for musical enthusiasts.