Star of the Week: Lauren Ward returns home to Broadway and shines as the soft-spoken Miss Honey in Matilda

Lauren Ward as Miss Honey in Matilda

Lauren Ward as Miss Honey in Matilda

She’s a mother to three children by day and a sweet-as-honey school teacher to a few dozen by night…although the students she teaches are quite “revolting.”

Lauren Ward has exceeded all expectations in her touching portrayal as Miss Honey in the Broadway smash hit Matilda. She originated this role during its West End debut, and has gained credentials in both New York and London prior to becoming the caretaker of everyone’s favorite little genius. On Sept. 1 she will be taking her final bow, but with her brilliant performances of past and present, there is no doubt that she will succeed wherever she goes next.

Although her break-through performance was in an off-Broadway production of Violet in which she played the title role, Lauren made her Broadway debut in Carousel as Heavenly Friend and Jenny Sanborn. She was also an understudy for the lead role of Julie Jordan, which of course is an iconic role that leading ladies everywhere dream of portraying. Not bad for a Broadway debut! She also appeared in 1776 on Broadway as Martha Jefferson and Follies as Young Sally.

Cara Joy David of the Huffington Post has been a huge fan of Lauren’s since her Follies days. “I know that 2001 production of Follies had many detractors, but I was a fan. I thought it had a beautiful bleakness to it,” Cara said. “And I still distinctly remember Ward’s performance as Young Sally…which is saying something because I don’t remember either of the performers who played those roles in the 2011 revival.”

It was during this production that Lauren met and fell in love with Matthew Warchus, the director of Matilda. They were married shortly after Follies closed. Lauren told the Huffington Post, “We got married really fast; we just knew. People love to say I got married because I was pregnant. But I didn’t have my daughter for another two years. It would be a very long gestation period.” Following their marriage, Lauren’s only New York appearance was an Encores! production of The New Moon.

Lauren has appeared in West End productions including The Sound of Music, The Philadelphia Story, Camelot, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Johnny Johnson, Dubarry was a Lady, and of course Matilda. During the West End run of Matilda, critics called her portrayal “touchingly sweet” and “gentle.” Ben Brantley of The New York Times called her performance on Broadway “lovely.” This year, she earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical.

Lauren’s rich soprano, crisp vibrato and delicate tone to her voice are key to her pitch perfect performances. Her numbers in Matilda are always beautiful from start to finish. Her solo in “When I Grow Up” is heart-breaking and effortlessly gorgeous. By the end of the show, Lauren’s Miss Honey is the kind of teacher the whole audience wishes they could have had when they were Matilda’s age.

Like her character, Lauren Ward has gone on a journey. She’s been able to tell a beautiful story in London and in New York, and has been highly praised for doing so. Whether she’s on or off Broadway, she will always be remembered for her enlightening and awe-inspiring performances; especially in Matilda.

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