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by Jon Dean
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The Twits, James and the Giant Peach, the BFG, even Fantastic Mr Fox – everyone has a favourite Roald Dahl story.
His books have sold millions of copies all over the world and been translated into 34 languages, including a Chinese version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was reproduced 2million times - the biggest run of any book ever.
Dahl’s tales hold cherished memories for young and old alike, but perhaps none more so than Matilda.
So when news came that the classic tale of a girl with supernatural powers was being adapted for stage, featuring music from Crouch End comedian, musician and composer Tim Minchin, audiences across the world were understandably excited.
Now, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Matilda has come to the Cambridge Theatre, in the West End, in one of the most eagerly-awaited runs of the year, and the man behind the music says it is well worth the wait.
“I should say straight from the top that it’s bloody great,” he says. “We had such a talented team all working together. To see the audience – a massive breadth of people from 90 year old men, to 6 year old girls and 40 year old truck drivers – all coming out either laughing or wiping away a tear is very gratifying.
“Dahl’s stories are famously hard to adapt to stage because they are such a mixture of darkness and innocence. I don’t think there has ever been an adaptation that Dahl himself before he died or his estate have ever been happy with, but the Dahls love it, so it’s great to be part of something which is a win.”
It’s not just the crowd who are emotionally tied up with the master storyteller - Tim himself says Dahl’s yarns have had a big impact on him personally.
“I was a huge fan of Dahl, almost to the point where it is not even conscious. It was an invaluable part of my childhood, although the Twits scared me when I was young.
“It was such an honour to be asked to do Matilda. When they approached me, part of me was thinking ‘why don’t they ask someone proper’? Actually it was my wife who voiced that opinion.”
Although originally from Perth, Tim now calls Crouch End home and is arguably it’s most famous denizen. But how did he end up in this suburban corner of north London?
“When we moved over here we pretty much threw a dart at a map. But we love it - since we moved here we had a baby, I began making money and we started a new life, and Crouch End is entwined with all of that.
“It is like a village – even though you’re in London. I love places that don’t have the tube - they make you feel safe and warm.”
* Not one to rest on his laurels, Tim has a new DVD out next week. Tim Minchin and the Heritage Orchestra, featuring live footage from his recent shows at the Royal Albert Hall, is on sale from November 14.
For more information about Matilda, call the box office on 0844 412 4652 or visit www.matildathemusical.com.