Set aside for a moment that the scribe behind the newest West End sensation, based on a beloved children’s book is a long-haired, skinny-jeans clad, boot-clicking, guy-lined, scruffy rocker.
Instead, focus on the fact that the 37-year old British-born Australian is actually a creative savant. The writer just also happens to be one of the most revered Australian satirists of his generation, a brilliant composer and pianist who can easily fill the seats of Albert Hall as well as an actor who just recently wrapped up a stint playing Rosencrantz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and a featured appearance on the US hit show Californication.
With that said, the idea now that Minchin is the brilliant lyricist who adapted Roald Dahl’s beloved tale of Matilda—a classic story about a school girl with magical powers—makes a world of sense; even if his plastic-rimmed spectacles are all that divines his creative, literary roots.
Despite his rebel rockstar aesthetic, Matilda the Musical isn’t an edgy, avant-garde reincarnation of a cherished children’s story. Instead, Minchin managed to create a score that combines toe-tapping, crowd-pleasing tunes and clever wordplay. It’s a composition that draws out real emotions from the audience. And as it turns out, his distinct brand of humour was the perfect match for Dahl’s renowned irreverence, bringing out the novelty of Matilda’s experiences and defining the much needed emotional resonance a musical needs from its audience to bring them to their feet for a standing ovation.
Is it any surprise therefore his latest project, which he worked on with the director Matthew Warchus and book writer Dennis Kelly, is critically (winning a Guinness World record breaking four Tonys and seven Oliviers) and commercially acclaimed success—ending night after night in standing ovations, recognized as “the best British musical since Billy Elliot”?
It’s just another accomplishment that can be added to his already stellar list of triumphs. Since his breakout show entitled Darkside shot the literally triple-threat to fame, he is now recognized for his unique brand of musical comedy, regular Australian, UK and US television stints and a dedicated documentary entitled Rock N Roll Nerd.
Not bad for the self-professed “piano hack” who can’t even read sheet music.