The wharf is alive with Muriel fever as STC puts the finishing touches on its finale for 2017, Muriel’s Wedding – and it’s a musical.
Taking a treasured part of our Australian film psyche and transferring it to the stage could be a daunting prospect but it’s happening, courtesy of a stellar cast, a raft of new songs by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall, as well as having original writer and director of the film, PJ Hogan at the centre. Madeleine Jones, who plays Muriel’s best friend Rhonda, singles out Hogan as being crucial. “To have him transfer these characters onto the stage and have him in the room for us has been pretty amazing – I don’t think anyone else could have done it justice.”
Constructing a new show from something as well-known and treasured as Muriel’s Wedding, requires care, because as Jones points out, it’s a modern-day classic. “People who know and love the film will enjoy particular lines or moments but there is enough that’s new.”
It’s such a very Australian story. The small coastal town of Porpoise Spit, totally obsessed with itself. Muriel, bullied and put down her whole life, coming to terms with who she is. The feeling of not being good enough is totally relatable but at the heart of her transformation is Rhonda. “She is so fun to play,” says Jones, “There is this whole group of dysfunctional characters and Rhonda sits apart because she is one of the only people from the get-go who knows who she is – it’s pretty joyful to play someone like that.”
And the thought of taking on a character made famous by the incredible Rachel Griffiths? “I try not to think about it,” says Jones, “You kind of just have to do it.”
Nov 6-Jan 27. Sydney Theatre Company, Roslyn Packer Theatre, 22 Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay. $79-$145+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.sydneytheatre.com.au or Ph: (02) 9250 1777