Fantastic Mr Minchin wows the West End

Comedian earns acclaim for musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's classic surreal novel Matilda

It is the latest West End smash hit, a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl's Matilda every bit as surreal and twisted as the literary original about a bookish girl with extraordinary powers. But, above all, critics have praised one man for bringing Dahl's tale to life: an Australian with back-combed hair and a penchant for eye-makeup.

Newspaper critics have almost unanimously praised the Australian comedian Tim Minchin's lyrics and music for the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Matilda the Musical, which opened at the Cambridge Theatre in London on Thursday, after transferring from Stratford-upon-Avon. Those attending the production's opening night praised Minchin for his "genius" words, combined with a play adapted by the writer Dennis Kelly.

Now Minchin's spokesperson confirmed the comedian is set to write his own musical from scratch, something his high-profile fans will no doubt be looking forward to.

Downton Abbey's star Hugh Bonneville called Minchin a "genius". "It's amazing that he won the award the other night... I feel privileged to be here," he said.

The show won the Evening Standard award for best musical last weekend. It has since won rave reviews from newspapers including the Daily Mail – "a family fizzer" – and The Independent – which called it a "colourful riot".

Kelly said he wrote a "play with holes in it" for Minchin's songs. "I knew of Tim, but I hadn't seen his stuff and went to see a gig and found him brilliant," he said.

"We both know what we want, and neither one of us is the kind of person who will do what someone says... I couldn't have done it on my own. It was totally a combination of Tim and me."

Minchin said he was in a state of "disbelief" at the production's success. "It's incredibly exciting and all the things you might think of, and then add 80 per cent," he said.

The story follows Matilda, a child prodigy who reads classics including Dickens and Dostoevsky. She has telekinetic and psychic powers, but is bullied by her parents. Songs in the musical, which was also a huge success in Stratford, include "When I grow up", defined by accessible, repetitive lyrics: "When I grow up, I will be smart enough to answer all the questions that you need the answers to."

Talking previously about his creative process, Minchin said: "I've written lyrics to fit the script. There's themes that weave into stuff... You react to the text lyrically and then you react to the lyrics, musically... I try to be as pure as I can in interpreting the words.

"Dahl is daunting because everyone has an opinion on it," he continued. "When you talk to them about Matilda they say, 'Oh, this bit's my favourite'. Dahl is so iconic and within us all. We all grew up with him."

'Twisted, anarchic' - what the critics said

The Daily Telegraph

"Aussie comedian Tim Minchin has come up with a smashing score..."

Daily Express

"Tim Minchin, he of the back-combed hair, heavy eyeliner and anarchic streak who seems to embody a Dahl-esque spirit himself."

The Independent

"[He has] exactly the right twisted, anarchic creativity for opening up this material."

Financial Times

"[His] musical numbers will win over even those who usually have reservations about his work. Most of the songs are packed with word play..."

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam