'Matilda's' L.A. opening a family affair

'Matilda's' L.A. opening a family affair
The Matildas -- Mabel Tyler, left, Mia Sinclair Jenness and Gabby Gutierrez -- pose during the party for the opening night performance of "Matilda the Musical" at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre. (Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging)

The event: For some Angelenos, Sunday’s opening performance of “Matilda the Musical” at the Ahmanson Theatre was a family affair. Comedian Jack Black brought his two sons; “Scandal” actor Dan Bucatinsky and screenwriter Don Roos brought their son and daughter; TV personality Kyle Richards had her daughter; and plenty more families could be spotted at the show and after-party at nearby Kendall’s Brasserie and Bar.

Still, judging from the audience, the four-time Tony Award-winning musical is just as much for adults. As further evidence, Tim Minchin - the play's composer and lyricist - noted that he's often seen grown men getting teary-eyed.

The play: Based on Roald Dahl's novel "Matilda," the play tells the story of a precocious girl, a voracious reader and enthusiastic storyteller disdained by her parents and the headmistress at school. Still, her courage never wavers, which she confirms in her repeating refrain, that "just because you find that life's not fair, it doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bear it."

The scene: Unlike the typical cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, the cast party featured face-painting, hula hoops and noise-makers, as well as kid-friendly food and drinks. And lest any theater lovers miss the same-night Tony Awards, chairs were set before a television monitor.

The crowd: Mia Sinclair Jenness, Gabby Gutierrez and Mabel Tyler, the play’s three alternating Matildas, joined Center Theatre Group supporters  after the play. Among other cast members at the party were Jennifer Blood, Quinn Mattfield, Bryce Ryness, Cassie Silva and Ora Jones. More actors at the show included Suzanne Cryer, Julie Ann Emery and Harry Groener.

Quotes of note: "I'm psyched to see how my boys react to the play," said Black, happy to be taking his sons to the theater. So is Black a good father? "I do my best," he said with a smile.

"I try to take [the children] to as much live theater as possible," said Bucatinsky. "They see a lot of great movies, but it's fun for them to see some things not on an iPad once in a while."

Roald Dahl "was really the most extraordinary father because he always showered us with surprises and always pushed our imaginations," said Lucy Dahl,  one of the author's four children. "Vis-a-vis 'Matilda,' he positively was pen pals with the headmistress of our school, always complaining on our behalf about our teachers, telling them they were teaching us the wrong way.

"It was always a travesty to him when children didn't read," she said. "If he were around today with the computers and the video games and everything else, I think he would feel tested even more and take it as a challenge because he wanted to write books that children would love so much that they would love to read."

Of note: "Matilda the Musical" is scheduled to continue through July 12. For further information,  click on www.CenterTheatreGroup.org.

Ellen Olivier is the founder of Society News LA.