Public booking opens for Matilda, A Musical

21 April 2010

A miracle fable full of mischief, music and magic

Matilda illustration by Quentin Blake goes live with exclusive interviews with writing team Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin

• Specially commissioned Quentin Blake poster illustrations revealed

Royal Shakespeare Company presents
Roald Dahl's
Matilda, A Musical
Book by Dennis Kelly
Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin
Directed by Matthew Warchus
A new RSC commission

Tuesday 9 November 2010 – Sunday 30 January 2011
Press performance, 5pm, Thursday 9 December 2010
The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon RSC Ticket hotline 0844 800 1110

On Wednesday 21 April, public booking opens for the world premiere of the Royal Shakespeare Company's new musical version of Roald Dahl's Matilda – the magical story about a little girl with extraordinary powers. Matilda has been a favourite novel for millions of children across the world since it was first published in 1988.

Matilda, A Musical previews in the RSC's Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from 9 November 2010 and plays for a straight 12 week run until 30 January 2011. It will be directed by the Tony Award-winning Matthew Warchus, the book is by playwright and screen-writer Dennis Kelly, and the music and lyrics are by the anarchic Australian comedian, musician and composer Tim Minchin.

Director Matthew Warchus said: "What a delight and a privilege to be working on this gem of a story; a tiny little girl genius pitted against the meanest, nastiest adults and triumphing against the odds. From this Roald Dahl masterpiece, Dennis and Tim are fashioning a wonderfully funny and surprisingly moving tale, for kids from 7 to 70, which celebrates the transforming power of stories and somehow manages to make reading cool. A miracle fable full of mischief, music and magic. It's a directing joy."

The production is designed by Rob Howell with choreography by Peter Darling, (who worked on both the film and stage versions of Billy Elliot), lighting by Hugh Vanstone, musical supervision and orchestration by Christopher Nightingale and sound by Simon Baker. Paul Kieve returns to the RSC to provide the special effects and illusions.

Working together for the first time, Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin have been brought together by the RSC. Jeanie O'Hare, the RSC's dramaturg explains:
"Dennis has a dark comic side (he wrote Pulling for BBC3) and is an award-winning playwright. He understands funny and he understands dark. We all loved Dennis' first draft and then had to find someone who would fit snugly into Dennis and Roald Dahl's doubly comic sensibility."
"We knew that Tim Minchin had the right sensibility. He was funny, smart and dangerous. Michael Boyd (the RSC's Artistic Director) was also in the process of finding the right director, and he asked Matthew Warchus if this was the right project for him."
"Matthew came on board at the perfect moment. He saw a shortlist of composers and he agreed with me that Tim was the strongest and most exciting possibility. He watched Tim's live show, met with him and set the seal on the writing partnership."
"Roald Dahl has the knack of writing something that is totally right and totally unexpected. The marriage of Tim and Dennis is exactly that and Matthew was the perfect marriage broker."

Dennis Kelly said: "The challenge has been to keep the sense of joy and fun, as well as the messing around. The great thing about Dahl is that you can enjoy his work at any age. An adult can enjoy it as a child, and adults and children can enjoy it together."

Tim Minchin added: "Dennis' ability to write like Roald Dahl without being a slave to his work is amazing. He has created a sort of alternative version of Matilda which I've been able to react to."

Tim was a Roald Dahl fan as a child and when he was in his twenties and writing for children's theatre in Australia, he had the idea of making Matilda into a musical.
"It was one of those ideas that disappeared into the past," said Minchin, "So when Matthew asked me about it I just freaked out. I think the enthusiasm with which I approached the topic might have influenced my getting the job."

Illustrator and author Quentin Blake, internationally recognised for his long-term collaboration with Roald Dahl, has been commissioned by the RSC to produce new drawings to publicise the show. In the new poster image, Blake has literally put Matilda on stage and in the spotlight.

Chris Hill, the RSC's Director of Sales and Marketing said: "We were absolutely thrilled when Quentin Blake agreed to work on the poster design for our new musical. His illustrations and Roald Dahl's writing are inseparable in people's imaginations, and it is brilliant that this relationship is continuing with the publicity for this production."

The RSC is working to gather a cast of talented youngsters and professional actors. Matilda and her classmates will be played by children, and the rest of the cast will be played by adults.

The RSC has a rich history of creating classic shows for families, including adaptations of The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Beauty and the Beast amongst others.

For further information and interview requests, please contact Nada Zakula in the RSC Press Office on 01789 412622 or

For regional requests and press tickets please contact Dean Asker on 01789 412622 or

Notes to Editors:

• Images of Tim Minchin and Dennis Kelly with Quentin Blake's caricature of Matilda, and the poster image are available on request or on or on the press section of goes live on 21 April 2010 and currently includes exclusive filmed interviews with Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin. Plans for the website include extensive behind the scenes footage of the production process as well as fun activities for adults and children around Dahl and the Matilda story.
• Education work – Workshops, theatre days, teachers INSET and classroom resources have been developed with members of the creative team to support this production.
• Creative Team Talk – There is a pre-show discussion with the creative team on Tuesday 7 December at 5.15pm
• Family Day – Members of the cast and creative team explore the story and the theatre making process on Saturday 22 January
• Roald Dahl Day is on 13 September. News and updates on and
• The work of the RSC Literary Department is generously supported by THE DRUE HEINZ TRUST
•The RSC gratefully acknowledges the support of the PRS for Music Foundation (PRSF) towards the composition of Matilda A Musical, under their New Works Scheme. The PRS for Music Foundation (PRSF) is the UK's leading independent funder of new music across all genres. Widely respected as an adventurous and proactive funding body, the Foundation supports an exceptional range of new music activity - from unsigned band showcases to composer residencies, from commissions for new music to experimental live electronica. Since March 2000 PRSF has given more than £13.5 million to over 4,000 new music initiatives. For more information about the PRS for Music Foundation, please visit


Dennis Kelly
is primarily a theatre writer. His new play for the RSC, The Gods Weep, recently opened at the Hampstead Theatre. Orphans was staged in 2009 at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh in August 2009 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival before transferring to the Birmingham Rep Theatre and Soho Theatre, London.
His other plays include Debris (Theatre 503 2003 and Battersea Arts Centre 2004), Osama the Hero (Hampstead Theatre 2005), After the End (Bush 2005 and UK and international tour 2006), Love and Money (Royal Exchange, Manchester and Young Vic 2006) and Taking Care of Baby (Hampstead Theatre, 2007). In 2007 he also wrote for the National Theatre Connections Festival.

Tim Minchin is an award-winning Australian musician, actor, comedian and writer. He has recently completed a sell-out world tour. He has composed and written songs for theatre and documentary, most recently This Blasted Earth (Tamarama Rock Surfers), Somewhere (Q Theatre) and the soundtrack for The Kindness of Strangers (Prospero) – an award-winning documentary by Rhian Skirving.

Christopher Nightingale, the musical supervisor and orchestrator, is responsible for make sure all the musical puzzle pieces fit together, smoothing over any rough edges and creating a synthesis. He is one of theatre's most experienced and highly regarded masters of his craft, with past credits that include some of West End best plays and musicals, including The Lord of the Rings and Bombay Dreams.

Matthew Warchus is a celebrated Tony Award-winning director and dramatist. His RSC production of Hamlet at the Barbican Theatre in 1997 also played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, USA. He directed Yasmina Reza's Art and of God of Carnage in the West End and on Broadway, True West starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly, Speed-the-Plow, starring Kevin Spacey and Jeff Goldblum, the musicals Our House and The Lord of the Rings, which played at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 2007

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