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Stage newcomer to play title role in Muriel’s Wedding the Musical

Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures have announced that the lead role in Muriel’s Wedding The Musical, has been won by newcomer Maggie McKenna (right).

The 20-year-old Melbourne born and raised actress has recently returned to Australia from Los Angeles where she trained at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). She will make her professional stage debut in the world premiere of Muriel’s Wedding The Musical, a theatrical version of PJ Hogan’s hit film, updated to today by the writer himself, with original music by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall alongside ABBA numbers.

It was also announced that an extra week of performances has been added to the season, which will now close on Saturday 27 January 2018. The production is at Roslyn Packer Theatre with previews from 6 November, opening on Saturday 18 November 2017.

PJ Hogan said: “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.”

Jocelyn Moorhouse, who produced her husband’s film, added: "Maggie is a perfect choice to play Muriel Heslop on stage. She is brilliant, gorgeous and a natural comedienne, with the added bonus that she sings likes an angel."

Director Simon Phillips said: “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 the new Muriel on stage is 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), while Helen Dallimore plays the strangely ever-present beauty consultant, Deidre Chambers. Celebrating her marriage to Chook (Aaron Tsindos), Tania Degano is brought to life by Christie Whelan Browne, accompanied by a posse of bridesmaids, two of whom are played by Manon Gunderson Briggs and Laura Murphy. Brice Nobes, the first guy to ever ask Muriel on a date, is played by Ben Bennett and Stephen Madsen is Olympic swimming hopeful Alexander Shkuratov, coached by Josh Quong Tart’s ruthless Ken. The 28-strong cast also includes Sheridan Harbridge, Mark Hill, Annie Aitken, Kaeng Chan, Tony Cogin, Adrian Li Donni and Kenneth Moraleda.

Muriel Heslop is back! And this time she’s singing. Stuck in a dead-end life in Porpoise Spit, Muriel is obsessed with the music of ABBA and dreaming of a fairytale wedding – the white dress, the church, the attention. Unfortunately, there’s one thing missing. A groom. Leaving small-town life, her long suffering mother and bullying father behind, she follows her dreams to Sydney with new best friend Rhonda. There she ends up with everything she ever wanted – a man, a fortune and a gazillion Twitter followers. That’s when things start to go really wrong.

The theatre director/designer team of Simon Phillips and Gabriela Tylesova (Love Never Dies, Ladies in Black and STC’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Dead) lead a stellar creative team which also includes choreographer Andrew Hallsworth, lighting designer Trent Suidgeest, sound designer Michael Waters, musical supervisor Guy Simpson and musical director Isaac Hayward.

Tickets now on sale: / 02 9250 1777.

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