An Aussie Classic Remade for the Stage: Muriel’s Wedding The Musical
Following 2018's massively successful sold-out season of Muriel's Wedding The Musicalat Sydney Lyric Theatre, the adored musical has now arrived in Melbourne primed for a strictly limited run of shows until Sunday, June 9. Gracing the storied stage of Her Majesty's Theatre, this wonderful adaptation of the quintessentially Australian movie has been recreated with a swirl of bold colours, powerful songs and outstanding performances.
If you haven't yet had the pleasure of watching the original 1994 motion picture, Muriel's Wedding tells the story of Muriel, a somewhat clumsy and socially awkward young woman who wants nothing more than to leave her dead-end town of Porpoise Spit behind. In fact, what Muriel really wants is the perfect white wedding that includes everything from the stunning gown and the picturesque chapel to the envy of her family and friends. But there's one major problem with Muriel's dream – there's no groom willing to share her vows. Yet, Muriel's not one to give up easily, deciding to leave behind her home and head for Sydney in search of everything she desires. And while she ends up finding what she wants, it doesn't take long for things to start to fall apart.
Developed by the Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures, Muriel's Wedding original writer and director PJ Hogan has returned to tell this story once again having decided to adapt his blockbuster script for the stage. You might also recognise Hogan's distinctly entertaining work from his wide-range of crowd-pleasing Australian and Hollywood movies, such as Peter Pan (2003), My Best Friend's Wedding (1997) and Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009). In part, the success of Muriel's Wedding can be attributed to its outstanding soundtrack, which hasn't been ignored when it comes to the new musical version. Acclaimed local musicians Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall have taken on this important responsibility, combining the original's ABBA-heavy soundtrack with some contemporary hits and a few creations of their own that are set to provide almost endless sing-alongs.
As the musical came to a close in Sydney last year, it didn’t take long for critics and audiences alike to recognise the brilliance of what they had just seen. And in the lead-up to July's Helpmann Awards, Australia's leading live entertainment and performance arts awards, the unavoidable hype around the production saw it become a runaway favourite. Nominated for an astounding 11 categories, in the end, the home-grown musical took home five awards, including Best Original Score, Best Music Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Design and Best Choreography in a Musical. But these honours likely didn't come as a surprise to those who had been paying attention to the reviews, which had given the production almost flawless praise. The Guardian awarded the musical four-and-a-half stars, celebrating its "high-spirited fun, spearheaded by a whip-smart script." Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald described Maggie McKenna's head-turning performance as Muriel as a "mainstage debut that will be talked about for years," while also revelling in the fact that this beloved Australian film had been "seamlessly updated" with such evident passion.
For many, that was one of the most impressive things about the new musical. PJ Hogan's expertly written script doesn’t dwell on the film's 1990s charms in a predictably nostalgic fashion, rather using the popular source material to thoughtfully present something fresh to a 21st-century audience. Exploring themes of celebrity, insecurity and the idiosyncrasies of Australian suburbia, much like the cinematic original, Muriel's Wedding The Musicalreflects on this desperation for fame. But this time around, there are a lot more social media references, selfies and a few other modern twists that help bring the story up-to-date.
Like the original, Muriel's Wedding The Musical offers audiences a vibrant experience that comes alive with colour and humour. Set designer Gabriela Tylesova creates a variety of bubbly scenery that ranges from palm trees on the beach to kitschy bridal stores, while audiences will find themselves in stitches as choreographer Andrew Hallsworth leads a crowd of boogying tradies and garbage collectors. Director Simon Phillips also displays a deft touch as the story weaves between roaring scenes of side-splitting laughter, poignant moments and fan-favourite musical hits. Undoubtedly one of the must-see performances of 2019, Muriel's Wedding The Musicalwill leave both theatre diehards and lovers of the original film more than satisfied once they've finished singing along to this spectacular production.
Located just a short walk from Her Majesty's Theatre, booking a serviced apartment at Fraser Place Melbourne ensures that you're set in the prime position to head along and catch all the fun. Plus, nearby you'll find loads of amazing restaurants, bars and cultural landmarks to explore.