Tim McDonald, playwright of Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka and James and the Giant Peach.

TheatrePeople (#7) - Tim McDonald | Theatre Avenue

This week meet Tim McDonald!

Tim is a respected educator, playwright (Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley, Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter) and director.

Tim McDonald, theatre educator, playwright, director and founder of iTheatrics.

What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)

There are SO many! I think Gypsy is perhaps the best musical ever written, and the book is just so smart, and so lean. I’m also inspired by anything Sondheim and his collaborators created. They took on so many seemingly non musical theatre subjects. Like a barber seeking revenge, or the middle-aged couples in Follies, or the meaning of beauty in Passion. 

What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?

Opening night of any of my shows is pure bliss! It means something now exists that didn’t before.

What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)

I was in a summer stock production of Godspell. We were about to do the crucifixion scene. I was John The Baptist, and noticed that the  actor playing Jesus had his pants fly down. I was staged to whisper in his ear my goodbye and had mapped out a plan in my head where I would physically block him from the audience, let him know his fly was down, and he’d correct the situation, all good! But before I reached him, one of the ensemble members shouted out, “Hey, Jesus! Your fly’s unzipped.” The audience roared with laughter, the actor playing Jesus turned bright red, and let’s just say the rest of the crucifixion was enacted through bursts of uncontrollable giggles.

Why do you love theatre?

When I first started doing theatre as a kid, I loved it because of the people. Everyone seemed bigger than life, and accepting of all, and we all worked together trying to do the best theatre possible. But now that I’m focused on writing, I love that theatre is one of the few arts that are truly 3 dimensional. There’s something very exciting about that notion, and a bit of alchemy as well. I write theatre in 2 dimensions, and then it transforms into 3d! No silly Imax glasses needed.

Theatre is for...


I saw this because I’m working on a new musical titled “Hans Christian Andersen, A Fable of Copenhagen” with music by Frank Loesser. Central to the storytelling is an 11 year-old boy (Hans Christian Andersen) who feels like an ugly duckling but learns he’s a swan.

More about Tim...

Timothy Allen McDonald, a respected educator, playwright (Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley, Jim Henson’s Emmet Otter) and director; Tim founded iTheatrics to create innovative programs that allow students to experience the transformative power of the arts.Before founding iTheatrics, Tim created Music Theatre International’s Education Division, working side by side with theatrical greats, including Cameron Mackintosh, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Flaherty, Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Schwartz and Sheldon Harnick, to create age-appropriate versions of classic musicals.

In partnership with Stephen Gabriel at Work Light Productions, Tim directed and developed four new touring shows: Broadway Junior on Tour, Disney’s Discover Theater, Frankly Ben, and The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley. In partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center, Tim co-wrote the book for Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka and directed The Phantom Tollbooth. Tim has also written the book for Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach alongside with the musical team of Pasek and Paul. Tim continues to be an advocate for educators, working to design materials and create professional development seminars that give teachers everywhere the tools necessary to put on a show in their community. Tim is currently developing the musical Between the Lines from the original book by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer. It will have its world premiere at Kansas City Repertory Theatre in the fall of 2017.

1 Response

GAI Jones
GAI Jones

April 07, 2020

What a fun interview. Thanks Mitch for interviewing Tim.

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