Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures today announced that Gary Sweet will step into the role of Bill Heslop in their co-production of Muriel’s Wedding The Musical.
Sweet plays Muriel’s father, an unforgiving and scheming local politician looking for his path to the top. The only problem is he sees his family as dead weight standing in the way of his dreams.
In a statement, Sweet said he was drawn to the villainous aspects of the character: “He’s a scoundrel and a blaggard, he’s rambunctious, nasty at times, duplicitous and completely selfish… what an absolutely delightfully disgraceful character for an actor… mind you he does get his comeuppance!”
The role was originated by Bill Hunter, who died in 2011, in the 1994 film.
“Bill and I worked together on many occasions and he and I were great mates,” Sweet said. “I hope to do him proud and expect a sign from him, wherever he is, to let me know how I’m going.”
Director Simon Phillips said: “It’s gratifying to realise that one of Australia’s most renowned bad boys has grown old enough to inherit the shoes left by the late great Bill Hunter. ‘Bill the Battler’ has achieved iconic status as an incorrigible Aussie scoundrel, but like everyone in Muriel’s Wedding he needs to be played by an actor of eye-twinkling charm. There can be no doubt that Gary fits the bill (no pun intended) in every way — he has effortless comic gifts and outrageous charisma.”
Sweet is known best for his extensive work on Australian television and film, with roles in The Sullivans, Bodyline, Police Rescue, and recently House Husbands. But he’s also appeared in stage productions for Melbourne Theatre Company and the Production Company.
He’ll be playing opposite Justine Clarke as his long-suffering wife Betty, Helen Dallimore as beauty consultant and his close “friend” Deidre Chambers, and Maggie McKenna as his daughter Muriel. You can see other confirmed cast members here.
Muriel’s Wedding The Musical has a book by PJ Hogan, who wrote and directed the original film, with a score by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall, and songs from ABBA. The Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures co-production opens at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in November, and plays a Sydney-exclusive season until late January 2018.