Helen Milbank chats to West End star Marianne Benedict, who plays Mrs Wormwood in Matilda The Musical
Photo: Manuel Harlan
Helen Milbank: Please tell us a bit about yourself and the role you play…
Marianne Benedict: I grew up in Oxfordshire with my mum, sister and brother and moved to London at the age of 18 to study musical theatre at the Arts Educational Schools (known as ArtsEd). I’ve been performing professionally as an actress and singer for nearly 20 years and am a proud mother to two young boys. I play the role of Mrs Wormwood in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda The Musical, and I absolutely love it. She is such a strong and colourful character – and a ghastly mother. Delivering the wonderfully witty lines written by the brilliant Dennis Kelly is a total joy, as is wearing her garish outfits.
Helen Milbank: How does it feel to appear on stage every night as part of such an iconic show?
Marianne Benedict: I feel extremely lucky. When I first saw the show, almost 10 years ago now, I said it was one of the best things in the West End and I still stand by
that. I still sometimes pinch myself that this is what I do for a living – if the younger me knew she wouldn’t have believed it.
Helen Milbank: For anyone who hasn’t yet seen the show, why do they need to go and see it?
Marianne Benedict: Because it’s brilliant! Seriously, it has something for everyone, no matter what your age or background. It makes you laugh and cry, it’s clever, witty and full of hope and heart. I defy anyone to not enjoy it.
Helen Milbank: Were you always a fan of the book?
MB: Absolutely. I was an avid reader as a child and drank in every Roald Dahl book I could get my hands on. I used to love looking at the Quentin Blake drawings too, so it’s great to now be physically emulating them on stage.
Helen Milbank: Do you have a favourite place in London you like to visit when you’re not performing?
Marianne Benedict: I love London and have always thought the best way to experience it is on foot. I love visiting anywhere on or near the river Thames. There’s something about being near the water, and I grew up in a town on the same river – I even had my wedding reception on a boat on the Thames. A walk and visit to a traditional pub anywhere from Putney to Southbank to Tower Bridge is a great way to spend a sunny day off.
- The RSC’s Matilda The Musical is at the Cambridge Theatre in London, visit matildathemusical.com