Matilda and Me. Behind the scenes look at Matilda the musical

Nel Minchin at Greens & Co, Leederville. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d450902
Nel Minchin at Greens & Co, Leederville. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d450902

THE musical theatre world has embraced the talent of Swanbourne’s Tim Minchin and no one could be more proud than his younger sister Nel Minchin.

The Sydney-based producer, writer and director for television and online spent six months filming and editing documentary Matilda and Me, a behind the scenes look at bringing West End musical Matilda to Australia, which will air on ABC at 7.40pm, April 3.

“Even though it had had huge success overseas before it got here, I knew it was a more personal experience for Tim to be bringing it home,” Minchin said.

“I wanted to do the behind the scenes musical thing and then interweave it with the story of the Tim I knew, that I didn’t think other people necessarily did.

“There’s this idea by some that an outspoken comedian is an interesting choice for composing a kid’s musical, but with my understanding of him, it wasn’t that strange at all.”

The Australian production of Matilda premiered in Sydney last year, is currently showing in Melbourne and will open in Perth in February of next year.

Minchin is narrator on Matilda and Me and co-director with Rhian Skirving, another former Perth girl who directed documentary Rock n Roll Nerd, which followed Tim Minchin’s early career.

“I hadn’t even finished uni when she did that,” Minchin, the youngest of four siblings, said.

“The experience of seeing Rhian work is what inspired me to get into television, and because I hadn’t directed a film before we needed to make sure I had a co-director and mentor.

“It was a perfect fit and awesome to have a co-director because logistically I was also very pregnant by the end of the filmmaking process.”

Like her older brother, Minchin studied at UWA and WAAPA following their high school days at Christ Church Grammar School and St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls respectively.

“It’s really nice to see someone who grew up in a normal Perth existence can go and use that experience, take it overseas and it turns out it’s good enough for the West End,” Minchin said.

“It’s luck, hard work and begrudgingly, as his sister, I’ll say he’s quite talented as well.”

Filming took Minchin to London, New York and LA, where her brother is currently based, to interview the musical’s creatives, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mara Wilson who played Matilda in the 1990s film and Roald Dahl’s wife Felicity Dahl.

She also spoke with Tim and Australian contributors including Andrew Denton, Eddie Perfect and Kate Mulvany who have worked with her brother during his career.

“It’s interesting to ask your sibling’s colleagues what they’re like because it is a slightly different side of them,” she said.

“Everyone was very nice about him because I’m his sister, so they didn’t say anything mean, even though I tried and tried to get anything out of them.

“I hope viewers get a sense of who he is as a person, a little more than him as a personality.”