Maggie McKenna, a 20-year-old Melbourne born-and-raised actor who trained at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, will return to Australia to make her professional stage debut in the world premiere of Muriel’s Wedding The Musical. Toni Collette originated the role in the 1994 film of the same name.
Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures will present the theatrical version of PJ Hogan’s hit film, which has been updated to present day by the writer himself, with original music by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall alongside the classic songs of ABBA.
Performances are scheduled for November 6, 2017–January 27, 2018, with an official opening November 18 at Sydney Theatre Company’s Roslyn Packer Theatre.
Hogan said in a statement, “When I made the film, Muriel was a difficult part to cast. So my smile was huge when I met Toni Collette. Almost 25 years later I smiled that same smile when I met Maggie McKenna.”
Director Simon Phillips added, “It’s hard to describe the thrill you get when, after months of searching, you suddenly clap eyes on the person who feels destined to play a role. The odds of that happening are significantly raised when the bar has been set as high as Toni Collette’s performance in the film. But when Maggie McKenna sent us an ambit audition tape from LA, where she was studying at the time, we all felt that thrill. We hustled her back to the country, put her through her paces to check it wasn’t a trick of the camera and all mentally high-fived. It’s going to be a challenging ride for her I’m sure—a huge role to score at the age of 20—but I feel sure she’s about to take Porpoise Spit by storm.”
Joining McKenna onstage will be Justine Clarke as the long-suffering Betty, with other members of the Heslop clan played by Briallen Clarke (Joanie), Michael Whalley (Perry), and Connor Sweeney (Malcolm). U.K. favorite Helen Dallimore will play beauty consultant Deidre Chambers. The cast will also include Aaron Tsindos as Chook, Christie Whelan Browne as Tania Degano, Manon Gunderson Briggs and Laura Murphy as two of the bridesmaids, Ben Bennett as Brice Nobes, Stephen Madsen as Olympic swimming hopeful Alexander Shkuratov, Josh Quong Tart as coach Ken with Sheridan Harbridge, Mark Hill, Annie Aitken, Kaeng Chan, Tony Cogin, Adrian Li Donni, and Kenneth Moraleda. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.
Like the movie, the musical will tell the story of a young, ABBA-obsessed woman who dreams of a fairytale wedding, despite missing the groom. With her best friend, she moves to Sydney, where her dreams come true. That’s when things start to go wrong.
Phillips leads a creative team that also includes set and costume designer Gabriela Tylesova, choreographer Andrew Hallsworth, lighting designer Trent Suidgeest, sound designer Michael Waters, musical supervisor Guy Simpson, and musical director Isaac Hayward.
Tickets are now on sale by visiting SydneyTheatre.com.au.