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Tony Award Nominated “Matilda the Musical” at Popejoy

Tony Award Nominated “Matilda the Musical” at Popejoy

By David Steinberg

That’s Mr. Wormwood over there in the orange-and-green plaid suit and shoes made of the skins of crocodile and snake.

He’s the unlikely father of 5-year-old Matilda, intelligent beyond her years. They’re members of the cast of the Tony Award-winning “Matilda the Musical.”

Mr. Wormwood is also the fellow with the really big hair.

“Mr. Wormwood is obsessed with his hair. He thinks hair makes the man. It’s his greatest asset and he has to use it,” Brandon McGibbon, who portrays Mr. Wormwood, said in a phone interview.

“He slicks it up almost in an Elvis pompadour but in the world of theater that pompadour gets pretty big.”

So it starts out one-half foot high. He likes to wax and curl it, McGibbon said. Throughout the show Mr. Wormwood’s hair goes through many incarnations, thanks to the character’s weird ideas. He dyes his hair different colors or he uses glue to see what happens.

“Let’s just say that neon green hair makes an appearance,” he said.

Mr. Wormwood, a working-class Londoner, thinks he looks pretty spiffy.

A North American touring production is coming to Popejoy Hall for six performances from Thursday, Jan. 12 through Sunday, Jan. 15. The stage musical is based on Roald Dahl’s famous children’s novel of the same name. (Dahl is also the author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach.”)

There is more – or maybe it’s less – to Mr. Wormwood than his hair.

He’s a sleaze ball used car salesman who behaves poorly toward Matilda, his book-loving 5-year-old daughter with a high IQ. She’s so smart that reads Dostoyevsky. In the original Russian.


Disappointed that Matilda, their second child, is a girl, he keeps calling her “boy.”

Matilda’s mom is just as thoughtless. A ballroom dancer, her motto is “Looks, not books.”

But Matilda is a survivor.

The story is about how education and imagination empower her, overcoming a disruptively loud home life and the nightmarish school headmistress Miss Trunchbull.

“To empower yourself to deal with bad situations in your life and get out of them. And a good way to do that is through books,” said McGibbon, a veteran Toronto-based actor.

Matilda’s dad would disagree with his young daughter’s path to achievement.

“If you ask Mr. Wormwood, the television is the pinnacle of our achievements as a species,” McGibbon said.

In 2013, “Matilda the Musical” was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and it received four Tonys – for Best Book of a Musical, Best Scenic Design of a Musical, Best Lighting Design of a Musical and Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical.

Performances of “Matilda the Musical” are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12, 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14 and  1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 15 at Popejoy Hall, Center for the Arts, UNM campus.

Tickets are available at,, by calling 925-5858 or toll-free 877-664-8661, at ticket offices in the UNM Bookstore, in The Pit and at area Albertsons supermarkets, and at the Center for the Arts box office. For groups of 10 or more call 344-1779. Discounts for UNM students.