‘We didn’t give Matilda any songs because she was shy. Then we realised: it’s a fricking musical – the protagonist needs to sing!’
The Royal Shakespeare Company had this theory that a lot of musicals are quite bad because no one bothers with the story. The script is often just glue for the songs. So they wanted a playwright to do the story first. I didn’t know anything about musicals but fancied getting stuck in. Now, it feels like Matilda was this golden ticket, but at the time it was just a Christmas show. Roald Dahl stories had been done on stage for years but it wasn’t like doing a Dahl was a recipe for success.