REVIEW: Anne-Marie Gatford’s verdict on Ryedale Youth Theatre’s Matilda Jr The Musical, Milton Rooms, Malton, April 12-16

At the double: Ryedale Youth Theatre’s two casts assemble for a Crunchem Hall Elementary School photograph

AND they’re back!  After a long, Covid –enforced break, Ryedale Youth Theatre returned with a sold-out run of this fast-paced, energy-filled show – and what a show they gave us. 

On account of the pandemic and because they have so many talented performers, the show was double cast in the principal roles, with Emily Umpleby and Alexa Johnson sharing the title role of Matilda herself.

On learning the show was double cast, I bought an extra ticket, and I’m so glad I did, as each cast was an utter joy to watch.  Two very talented young girls who conveyed Matilda’s plucky spirit perfectly, beautifully acted and sung. 

This spirit that was needed with parents like hers: a mother (Evie-Mae Dale/Matilda Gledhill) who wasn’t the least bit interested in her daughter, only her snake-hipped dancing partner Rudolpho (Charlie Fox/Lincoln Walsh), and a father (Alisdair Buck/Sam Piercy) who insisted until almost the end that Matilda was a boy. 

Matilda, left, Mr and Mrs Wormwood and Michael in Ryedale Youth Theatre’s Matilda Jr The Musical

The comedic element was brought to the fore by all the cast but especially by the excellent portrayal of Miss Trunchbull, the nasty headmistress of Crunchem Hall, the school Matilda is sent to. 

Both Joshua Lewis and Sam Spencer played the evil woman – who threw the hammer for her country – with ultimate nastiness and managed to make us all laugh at the same time, especially when she got a newt in her knickers.

The comedic timing by the all principals was a joy, and a skill that belied their youth. The hapless Bruce Bogtrotter, on confessing he had stolen a slice of cake from Miss Trunchbull’s tray, was made to eat the whole thing, and eat it most convincingly did Alex Bourke/Jack Robinson. 

The put-upon and kindly Miss Honey (Abigail Rennison/Millie Kemp) – both with lovely vocals – was Matilda’s champion throughout, and Matilda’s friend at the library, Mrs Phelps (Lillian Willliamson/India Collier-Hield), was always ready to listen to Matilda’s stories about the Acrobat (Eloise Myers/Lola Weatherill) and the Escapologist (Callum Hodgson/Evie Bates).  The scenes where this story was played out by the senior dance team were beautifully staged.  

Miss Trunchbull, right, Bruce Bogtrotter and the Cook with the chocolate cake in Ryedale Youth Theatre’s Matilda Jr The Musical

With so many cast members, this company managed to convince us that the children really were all at school: little boys scooting around the stage, girls with a jump rope and skipping, my eyes didn’t know where to look to catch all the action. 

The dancing and the choreography by ex-RYT member Lauren Hood was tight and perfectly in time with the music.  The singing and harmonies, under the direction of Rachael Clarke, were absolutely marvellous and filled the stage with such tuneful voices – although when the children sang about being “Revolting Children” they were quite the opposite.

The music provided by The Invisible Band enhanced the show and never overwhelmed the songs or the cast singing them. 

The production was under the direction of another ex-RYT pupil, Chloe Shipley, who brought the whole company together to present this vibrant and happy “comeback” show.  

Miss Trunchbull, left, Miss Honey and Matilda, centre, with Crunchem Hall pupils in Matilda Jr The Musical

Mention must be made of the costumes – perfect school uniforms, so many of them – overseen by Jane Gledhill and Kerry Myers, who have assumed the role which Yvonne Young had held for the first 30 years of RYT. 

The Backroom Boys and Girls and everyone else involved in this production deserve a mention too for their dedication to keeping this company going and ensuring that every performance ran like clockwork.

Ryedale Youth Theatre should have celebrated its 30th annual performance two years ago until Covid intervened. In that time, many members have left to further their education or careers but I’m glad to see there are so many talented members in the ensemble cast just waiting for their chance. 

With such a multi-skilled and enthusiastic group as this, I’m sure they will be around to entertain audiences for another 30 years.

Review by Anne-Marie Gatford

Matilda, second from left, with Mrs Phelps, the librarian, The Escapologist and The Acrobat in Ryedale Youth Theatre’s Matilda Jr The Musical

More Things To Do in York and beyond as the eyes have it in museum’s new Roman display. List No. 77, courtesy of The Press

The Roman bust, key handle, plumb bob and horse and rider from the Ryedale Hoard at the Yorkshire Museum, York

FROM Roman remnants to re-discovered early Pink Floyd gems, Charles Hutchinson reveals highlights of the week ahead.

Exhibition of the week: The Ryedale Hoard, Yorkshire Museum, Museum Gardens, York, open daily during half-term, then Tuesday to Saturday from April 25

THE Yorkshire Museum has re-opened with the new exhibition The Ryedale Hoard: A Roman Mystery. For the first time, visitors can see some of Yorkshire’s most significant Roman objects, while exploring an intriguing archaeological mystery: who buried them 1,800 years ago?

Discovered by metal detectorists, on permanent show are a rare bust, made to adorn the top of a sceptre and thought to show Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180. An intricate figurine of a horse and rider, probably made in Britain, represents the god Mars.

A horse-shaped handle for a key, for magical purposes, may have been deliberately broken before burial. A plumb bob, large and finely created, would have been a weight for establishing a “plumb” vertical line. To book tickets:

Living for today: Bite My Thumb Theatre Company in Rent The Musical at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

York musical of the week: Bite My Thumb Theatre Company in Rent The Musical, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, Thursday to Saturday, 7.30pm

ARTISTIC director Neil Knipe directs Bite My Thumb in a spring tour of Jonathan Larson’s ground-breaking 1994 American musical about falling in love, finding your voice and living for today.

Set in the East Village of New York City, Rent follows a year in the life of a bohemian group of impoverished young artists, struggling to survive as they negotiate their dreams, loves and conflicts. Box office: 01904 501935 or at

 Forever thinking up new rules for Crunchem Hall Primary School: Joshua Lewis’s headmistress Miss Trunchbull in Ryedale Youth Theatre’s Matilda Jr The Musical

Ryedale musical of the week: Ryedale Youth Theatre in Matilda Jr The Musical, Tuesday to Saturday, 7pm; 3pm matinees, Thursday, Friday, Saturday

BORN with astonishing wit, intelligence, a vivid imagination and special powers, school pupil Matilda rebels against the mean, monstrous, rule-ridden regime of headteacher Miss Trunchbull.

Scripted by Dennis Kelly with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, Matilda Jr is packed with multiple featured roles. Given the profusion of young Ryedale talent, director Chloe Shipley has decided on double casting to give everyone who auditioned the opportunity to perform in the principal parts. Box office:

BalletBoyz: Deluxe dance delight at Grand Opera House, York, on Monday

Dance return of the week: BalletBoyz Deluxe, Grand Opera House, York, Monday, 7.30pm

MICHAEL Nunn and William Trevitt’s BalletBoyz return to York with what began as the boisterous, bold company’s 20th anniversary show but is now running into a 23rd year.

Eight young dancers interweave in two mesmeric dances, fused with the BalletBoyz’ trademark witty use of film and behind-the-scenes content.

Deluxe features a commission from choreographer Xie Xin and composer Jiang Shaofeng, followed by a collaboration between Punchdrunk’s Maxine Doyle with jazz musician and composer Cassie Kinoshi, from SEED Ensemble. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or

Dance, dance, wherever they may be, they are the Lord Of The Dance dancers, arriving for a four-night run at York Barbican

Anniversary show of the week: Michael Flatley’s Lord Of The Dance, York Barbican, Monday to Thursday, 8pm

MICHAEL Flatley’s Lord Of The Dance show is “going to the next level” in 2022 for its 25th anniversary travels, wherein high-energy Irish dancing combines with original music, storytelling and sensuality.

Expect new staging, costumes and choreography plus cutting-edge technology, special effects and lighting, in a production featuring 40 young performers directed by Flatley, dancing to new compositions by Gerard Fahy as tradition meets the excitement of the innovative. Box office:

News headliners: Harry Gration and Christine Talbot fronting A Grand Yorkshire Night Out at York Theatre Royal

Yorkshire event of the week: A Grand Yorkshire Night Out with Harry Gration & Christine Talbot, York Theatre Royal, Monday, 7.30pm

YORKSHIRE broadcasting legends Harry Gration and Christine Talbot, formerly of the BBC’s Look North and ITV’s rival Calendar respectively, join forces to host a journey down memory lane on a rare occasion these friends will have presented together.

The duo look back at memorable stories, plus a smattering of their crazier fundraising exploits, from tandem rides and a sofa push to Harry being tied to weather presenter Paul Hudson for days on end. 

Special guests will be production team members from the original All Creatures Great And Small series, Leeds band The Dunwells and Harry’s musical son, Harrison, singing songs from the shows. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

Barry Humphries: Revealing The Man Behind The Mask in first performance for three years

Confessions of the week: Barry Humphries, The Man Behind The Mask, Grand Opera House, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

BARRY Humphries takes to the stage for the first time in three years on Wednesday to reveal The Man Behind The Mask, playing the Grand Opera House in the only Yorkshire show of his 2022 tour

The Australian actor, comedian, satirist, artist, author and national treasure, aged 88, conducts a revelatory trip through his colourful life and theatrical career in an intimate, confessional evening, seasoned with highly personal, sometimes startling and occasionally outrageous stories of Dame Edna Everage, Sir Les Patterson, four marriages et al. Box office: 0844 871 7615 or

Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets: Re-visiting Pink Floyd’s early days

Pink Floyd show of the week: Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets, York Barbican, August 16, 7.30pm

PINK Floyd drummer Nick Mason teams up with Spandau Ballet guitarist Gary Kemp, Guy Pratt, Lee Harris and Dom Beken for this re-arranged show with original tickets still valid.

The 2022 tour finds Mason and co further expanding their repertoire on a journey of Pink Floyd re-discovery, playing songs from their early catalogue up to the 1972 album Obscured By Clouds. Box office:

Oh, and another thing

THIS is the second weekend of York Open Studios, 10am to 5pm today and tomorrow. Go discover at

Matilda J The Musical is so good, Ryedale Youth Theatre cast it twice in revolutionary step for double trouble at Crunchem Hall

Thinking up yet another punishment: Joshua Lewis as Miss Trunchbull in Ryedale Youth Theatre’s Matilda Jr The Musical

ATTENTION, maggots! Join the revolt in Roald Dahl’s Matilda Jr The Musical when Ryedale Youth Theatre take over the Milton Rooms, Malton, from April 12 to 16.

Full of rousing songs, witty lyrics and fun ensemble roles, this Broadway Junior adaptation of the Tony-winning musical is ready to bring the smell of rebellion to Malton with director/choreographer Chloe Shipley and musical director Rachael Clarke in charge.

In Dahl’s story, Matilda is born with astonishing wit, intelligence, a vivid imagination and special powers! Unloved by her parents, unfortunately her less-than-brilliant family fails to value the qualities that make Matilda so special. 

Sent to the abysmal Crunchem Hall Primary School, she impresses loveable, kind teacher Miss Honey, but monstrous, mean headmistress Miss Trunchbull hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who flout her rules.

Ryedale Youth Theatre’s poster for Matilda Jr The Musical , featuring the two extra performances

Buoyed by the help of her friends and Miss Honey, Matilda has the courage and cleverness to start a revolution. Could she be the pupils’ saving grace, the one to prove that everyone has the power to change their own story?

Matilda Jr The Musical is a tribute to those who think outside of the box and feel misunderstood,” says Chloe. “The show will teach actors and audience alike that you ‘mustn’t let a little thing like ‘little’ stop you and that sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty’.”

Matilda Jr will be Ryedale Youth Theatre’s 30th annual show, a milestone that should have been marked by their production of Oliver!, until Covid-19 forced its cancellation.

Scripted by Dennis Kelly with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, Matilda Jr is packed with multiple featured roles. “Blessed with so many talented and enthusiastic young people within the company, we decided to double cast the show to give everyone who auditioned the opportunity to perform in the principal roles,” says publicist Barbara Wood.

Miss Honey, Matilda, Miss Trunchbull and the school pupils at Crunchem Hall Primary School in Ryedale Youth Theatre’s Matilda Jr The Musical

Consequently, two extra performances have been added to allow both teams four performances each of a show that runs to just over one hour with no interval.

Chloe and Rachael have been joined once again in the production team by former Ryedale Youth Theatre leading light, professional West End actress and singer Lauren Hood as assistant director/choreographer.

Lauren, who is living in Spain at present, flew over for the February half-term rehearsals, held at Malton School.

Yesterday was the get-in day for tech preparations for next Tuesday’s opening at the refurbished Milton Rooms. “The refurbishment work and upgrade to the sound and lighting systems is complete and the decorators are due to finish in time for our production,” says Barbara.

Tickets for the 7pm evening shows and 3pm Thursday, Friday and Saturday matinees cost £12, concessions £10, at