Books, Buses, and Broadway: Our Matilda Adventure

“Just because you find that life’s not fair, it
Doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it!
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
You might as well be saying, you think that it’s ok
And that’s not right!
And if it’s not right, you have to put it right!
But nobody else it gonna put it right for me,
Nobody but me is going to change my story,
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty!”

As we have mentioned before, we love to travel. Since the beginning of our partnership, there has hardly been a road trip that hasn’t included us belting out the above lyrics with exuberance. They are the last few lines of a song called, “Naughty” from Matilda, The Musical. This song seems to be our anthem in times when life is extra difficult and challenging. For those who aren’t familiar, Matilda is based on a children’s book of the same name by the famous British author Roald Dahl, who also penned James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In the story, Matilda Wormwood is a young girl of extraordinary intellectual abilities who was born into a family that not only devalues learning, but also mocks and ridicules the educated. Matilda develops a close friendship with her teacher, Miss Honey, who recognizes Matilda’s gifts and encourages her to continue developing her mind.

Both of us adored this book when we were children. Being two little eggheads who didn’t always fit in with the social environments at our schools, we found many easily relatable situations in Matilda’s story. After meeting each other, we discovered that we have both reread Matilda periodically during childhood and adulthood.

When Lindsey was living in England a couple of years ago, Lindsey was beyond excited to discover that the Royal Shakespeare Company had produced a musical based upon this beloved book. Eventually, Lindsey saw the production in London’s West End and thoroughly enjoyed it. Around the time we decided to begin our partnership, Lindsey discovered the show was going to be making its Broadway debut and shared the Matilda soundtrack with Sarah. Sarah, who had also lived in England for a time, quickly became just as ecstatic about the show’s upcoming arrival in the States. For Christmas that year, Lindsey received a gift of two tickets to see Matilda on Broadway while the show was still in previews. Eagerly, we began planning for a weekend trip to New York City for the following March.

Putting together and executing a travel plan on a budget is one of our favorite things to do together because it allows us endless possibilities for creative problem solving. We’ve had a variety of costly adventures on road trips and bus trips, so saving money where we can in advance is always a high priority. Past adventures have included everything from wheel bearing malfunctions to encounters with large deer carcasses to catching strep throat and walking pneumonia in the middle of a long drive. We never know what’s in store, and we do what we can to save money on the front end. It’s great fun for us to search for coupons, discount codes, and random travel deals together. In this case, Sarah’s knack at working the Negotiator landed us a hotel for under $60 a night, and we found a great deal on two overnight tickets in order to save us a night on hotel costs.

After getting very little sleep on our bus ride, we arrived in Manhattan around 4 A.M. on the day before the show. As we had no formal plans until the next day, we did a bit of wandering until time to check into our hotel. Lindsey suggested that we venture out to Yonkers to visit a bookstore Lindsey had been wanting to see. We went to Grand Central Station to get the requisite train tickets. New York geography is not Lindsey’s strongest point, and Sarah was amused to see Lindsey’s shocked expression upon discovering that Yonkers isn’t actually part of New York City. We acquired nearly as many books as we could carry, took some time to rest, and then headed back into the city to find our hotel in Queens.

On the day of the show, we spent most of the morning meandering about the subway trains and streets, meeting up with Lindsey’s friend Evan, and trading lyrics to our favorite Matilda songs. We had fun imagining ourselves being half as talented as these kids:

With the showtime finally drawing near, we made our way to the theatre. Our tickets were for the upper balcony, which usually isn’t a problem. However, after 30 seconds in our seats, it was clear that Sarah’s vertigo was not going to cooperate to allow Sarah to enjoy the show. Lindsey clicked into high gear problem solving, coordinated with the ushers, and managed to negotiate a plan where we would sit on folding chairs at the back of the mezzanine level, one flight down.

The show was absolutely incredible in a way that only a Broadway show can be. We sat next to each other, each squeezing the other’s hand whenever the show was about to have reach a “good part.” Because we knew the London soundtrack backwards and forwards, we got many chuckles at how the show had been translated for an American audience. We’re so glad that Dr. Who has come to the States so the show could keep the line “But maybe your largeness is a bit like a Tardis, considerably roomier inside” during the scene where Bruce Bogtrotter eats the Trunchbull’s massive cake.

We’re both incredibly excitable people at times. The best part of sharing the show together was having an experience where it was legitimately acceptable to be 110% excited. When you want to bounce with exuberance, you should be able to bounce. When you want to squeal with delight, you should be able to squeal. When you want to dance, you should be able to dance. When you want to review the experience play-by-play with someone else who knows what happened, you should be able to provide your commentary. We continue to sing Matilda lyrics with exuberance because we both absolutely loved the show.

After the show had ended, we made our way back to the Megabus stop to catch a 1:15 A.M. bus bound for home. We had an important engagement the next morning and wanted to do everything humanly possible to get back from New York City. Sometimes you need to be creative to make an adventure work… and sometimes you just need to be a little bit naughty.

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