Sydney Theatre Company and commercial producer Global Creatures this morning revealed most of the key casting for the world premiere of Muriel’s Wedding the Musical.
McKenna is a relative newcomer, but is the daughter of Kath and Kim star Gina Riley and her producer husband Rick McKenna. She recently returned from Los Angeles, where she was studying at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA).
PJ Hogan, who wrote the original film and is adapting and updating it for the stage, 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.”
Director Simon Phillips added, in a statement: “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 a gambit 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 McKenna in the Heslop clan are Justine Clarke as her much-neglected mother Betty, and Briallen Clarke (Joanie), Michael Whalley (Perry) and Connor Sweeney (Malcolm).
Christie Whelan Browne will play Tania Degano, the bridezilla marrying Chook, who will be played by Aaron Tsindos. Two of Tania’s bridesmaids will be played by Manon Gunderson Briggs and Laura Murphy.
Muriel’s husband-to-be, the olympic swimmer Alexander, will be played by Stephen Madsen, and the first guy to date Muriel, Brice Nobes will be played by Ben Bennett.
Other cast members announced include: Josh Quong Tart, Sheridan Harbridge, Mark Hill, Annie Aitken, Kaeng Chan, Tony Cogin, Adrian Li Donni and Kenneth Moraleda.
The actor playing Rhonda, the character made famous by Rachel Griffiths, is yet to be announced.
Muriel’s Wedding the Musical will be directed by Simon Phillips, adapted for the stage by PJ Hogan, and feature a score by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall.
Miller-Heidke and Nuttall previewed a song from the show at this morning’s casting announcement.
Muriel’s Wedding the Musical is at the Roslyn Packer Theatre from November 6 until January 27.