Natalie Abbott, centre, in a scene from Muriel's Wedding the Musical.
Natalie Abbott, centre, in a scene from Muriel's Wedding the Musical. Supplied

Queensland says ja to Muriel's Wedding The Musical

IT'S bright, bold, cheeky and sure there are four Swedes in the mix - but musicals don't get any more Aussie than Muriel's Wedding.

The homegrown show, which officially opened to a standing ovation at QPAC last night, tells the story of an ABBA-obsessed social outcast who dreams of a better life.

Growing up in the coastal town of Porpoise Spit, Muriel thinks a wedding and online fame will make her happy. She teals her mum's credit card to go on a cruise, where she meets the fiercely independent and confident Rhonda, who instantly becomes a better friend than the mean girls she has been clinging to since high school.

Natalie Abbott, centre, stars in her first leading role as Muriel in Muriel's Wedding the Musical.
Natalie Abbott, centre, stars in her first leading role as Muriel in Muriel's Wedding the Musical. Supplied

Muriel moves to Sydney, where Rhonda's been living it up and sleeping with whoever she wants, and reinvents herself as Mariel. 

She meets a nice guy who's a parking inspector (apparently the most despised profession in the Harbour City), and their hilariously disastrous first date makes clever use of a bean bag. 

Rhonda's cancer diagnosis brings Mariel crashing back down to reality, and her insecurities are never far from the surface. She can't pass up the opportunity of an arranged marriage with a famous Russian swimmer who needs citizenship to compete for Australia - cue more budgie smugglers than you'd be expecting to see on a night out at the theatre.

It's tabloid and social media fodder. Sure she's now a social media influencer, but she's alienated herself from those dearest to her. 

Stefanie Jones and Natalie Abbott star in Muriel's Wedding the Musical.
Stefanie Jones and Natalie Abbott star in Muriel's Wedding the Musical. Jeff Busby

PJ Hogan's iconic and much-loved 1994 film slides easily into the 21st century. Sure there are still the famous lines such as "You're terrible Muriel" but now there are songs about hashtags and selfies and Muriel's big day is live streamed on Facebook.

While Muriel and Rhonda's friendship is the beating heart of this story, the original music and lyrics by Kate Miller-Heidke and her husband Keir Nuttall elevates what could have been a pretty daggy show into a heartfelt experience with emotional depth.

Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall at the premiere of Muriel’s Wedding The Musical.
Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall at the premiere of Muriel’s Wedding The Musical.

Catchy, clever and at times unexpected - the music is unashamedly Aussie. 

Special mention has to go to comedian Dave Eastgate, whose speedo-clad antics fit perfectly into this quirky show. 

Sure it's great when the big international musicals come to our doorstep, but Muriel's Wedding is a show about us for us.

Playing at the Lyric Theatre through October 26.



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