Perth director Jacinta John’s childhood comes full circle with Minchin’s Matilda the Musical


Jacinta John. Picture: Tanya MacNaughton
Jacinta John. Picture: Tanya MacNaughton

SELF-CONFESSED theatre nerd Jacinta John grew up in Perth with kindred spirit Tim Minchin.

The pair spent their teenage years together pursuing their creative passion for the stage at Church Grammar-based Midnite Youth Theatre Company but parted ways when John graduated from PLC and went to London to study acting and Minchin attended UWA and WAAPA before moving to Melbourne.

Fate reunited them in 2014 when John, who was now in Sydney and had started dabbling in directing, began working with associate director Nik Ashton on staging the Australian production of Matilda the Musical featuring music and lyrics by Minchin.

“We’d kept up with each other’s work over the years but it wasn’t until I got the job on Matilda that I bumped into Tim again properly,” John said.

“I told him I was going to be working on his show and that was kinda cute to come full circle.”

Since then John did a stint as assistant director on Minchin’s follow-up musical Groundhog Day in London before returning to Matilda the Musical as resident director for the Brisbane and Perth seasons.

She said delving into Minchin’s creativity every day was a joy.

“He’s really brainy and because of that you don’t ever tire of the work; that’s the same for Dennis Kelly (book) and Roald Dahl and his original story,” John said.

“They’re all so bright that it’s a complex, detailed work.

“I think it was the perfect storm to have someone like Dennis Kelly adapting Roald Dahl’s novel and someone like Tim Minchin come on as the lyricist and composer. They’re all a bit naughty and just the perfect team with their wicked personal take on life.”

John still considers Perth as home and has returned during her career for productions at Black Swan State Theatre Company and with tours of The Mousetrap and A Murder is Announced.

She will stay with her mum in Fremantle during the Crown Theatre Perth season from February 28.

“I grew up in Perth going to see amazing shows; my first musical experience was watching Les Miserables at His Majesty’s Theatre and that opened my eyes to theatre and the world I wanted to be involved in,” John said.

“It’s amazing to come home with a musical of this nature; a show that is not only brilliant in its scale and size but has the most incredible heart, beauty and such a lovely message that even though you’re little, you can do a lot.

“So I’m really excited that I get to come home with this show because I know how loved and adored it is and how it will not only inform kids wanting to go into the industry but also just empower them in life to do good things. The character Matilda does just that and she’s a great role model.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Matilda the Musical

Where: Crown Theatre Perth

When: from February 28

Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com.au