The success of a theatrical production in the West End is always something to be celebrated, and this week, Matilda The Musical has been flying the flag for all UK theatre. The Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) production, which is the brain-child of Tim Minchin (Music/Lyrics), Dennis Kelly (Book) and Matthew Warchus (Director), was based on Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s classic and transferred into the Cambridge Theatre in the West End in 2011, following its overwhelmingly popular premiere at the Courtyard Theatre in Stratford upon-Avon in 2010. The story of an unhappy little girl who uses her newly discovered powers of telekinesis to teach her neglectful parents and evil headmistress a lesson captured the hearts of children when Dahl’s book was first published, and parents have been reading it to their kids ever since. Matilda is very much a tale of what is right and wrong and people getting what they deserve – the show has certainly gotten what it deserves.
Matilda The Musical is set to enter the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013 due to the unrivalled number of Laurence Olivier Awards it has gained since arriving here. It beats another RSC production, that of Nicholas Nickleby, which previously held the title at six Olivier Awards for twenty years – until Matilda arrived in town that is.
Matilda seems to have managed to surpass expectations and has shown just what a West End show aspires to. It now has seven Laurence Olivier Awards to its name including, ‘Best Actor in a Musical’ (Bertie Carvel – Ms Trunchbull), ‘Best Director’ (Matthew Warchus) and ‘Best Set Design (Rob Howell, among others. It’s not just the show that can impress however, but also the company. There are an amazing set of people within its ranks, so this week, I decided to turn the spotlight onto one of the ensemble members, in particular the lovely Leanne Pinder.
Pinder has been with Matilda since its West End premiere, where she currently acts as swing and also the resident choreographer. She is a graduate of the Expressions School of Performing Arts (Mansfield), who then went on to complete her training at the Urdang Academy (London). After graduating from there, Pinder went on to perform in a wide variety of works, including dancing in the world premiere of Classical Pianist Maksim (Roundhouse) and appearing as a soloist in the concert Musical Memories of Stage and Screen (Queen’s Theatre).
In addition to these credits, Pinder also has plenty of touring experience under her belt, having been involved in three UK tours of West End shows. She played ‘Iris Kelly’ in Fame, played ‘Linda’/’Patti’ and understudied ‘Maria’/’Shirley’ in Saturday Night Fever, and covered the roles of ‘Rizzo’, ‘Patti’ and ‘Cha Cha’ in Grease. It was with the Queen musical We Will Rock You that she made her West End debut however, as a swing and dance captain. From there, she moved on to her current home at the Cambridge Theatre.
Pinder has a number of further achievements to her name, some theatre-related and some not: she ran the Virgin London Marathon in 2011 for example, to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. She is also a qualified Zumba fitness instructor who teaches classes in London. In regards to performance, Pinder has been involved in several concerts/cabarets, including Jest End in 2011 and the Mansfield By The Sea concert in 2008, and has made numerous television appearances as a dancer for Emma Bunton and Girls Aloud.
Matilda The Musical is a brilliant piece of musical theatre, and as a talented singer and dancer, Leanne Pinder makes a wonderful addition to its company. The quality of this show is being recognised in its Guinness World Record achievement, but today, the outstanding quality of Leanne Pinder is being recognised right here.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)
Content updated 1st May 2014