ROALD DAHL MADE UP LOADS OF SILLY WORDS and was also a great rhymerizer. I — like so many kids — was brought up on a diet of his children's novels, but it was probably his hilariously grotesque poetry collection, Revolting Rhymes, that had the greatest impact on me. (I'm now 39 years old, and I still spend most of my time trying to find rhymes for lines that don't need to rhyme.) Dahl's love of language and the musicality of words, combined with his ability to make us laugh at subjects that are a little bit dark and scary, meant that for me, being asked to write songs for Matilda was like Bruce Bogtrotter being offered a jam doughnut. Yum.
I think theatre should always aim to make its audience laugh and cry, unless there's a really good reason why not. Stories are best when they are a bit like roller coasters, with highs and lows, twists and turns, a good bit of fear and the significant risk that someone might vomit. Matilda has all these things, making it the perfect story for a stage musical.
Songs allow us to make those high soar even higher and those lows seem even darker and the turns ever twister and the ending all the more satisfying. Then all you need is to add some awesome actors and a sumptuous stage set, a dollop of delightful dancing and a sprinkling of genuine, real-life magic... and you're off. Buckle up!
wrote the music and lyrics for
Matilda The Musical