Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures have announced that legendary Australian actor Gary Sweet will play the role of Bill Heslop in the world premiere season of Muriel’s Wedding the Musical at the Roslyn Packer Theatre from November.
Though most recognised for his television & film roles, Sweet has appeared in a number of stage productions including The Club (David Williamson) and The Recruit (Tony McNamara) for Melbourne Theatre Company and La Cage Aux Folles for The Production Company. He has also appeared in the musicals Oh, What a Night and Little Orphan trASHLEY, and has narrated Our Don for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
Sweet was drawn to the role of Muriel’s imperious father Bill because he’s a wonderful villain to play. “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 of the corrupt councilman was played by the late Bill Hunter in the original 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.”
“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,” said Director Simon Phillips. “Bill ‘the Battler’ Heslop 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. And, who’d’ve thought it, he can sing! He has put the icing on the cake of our Muriel’s cast.”
Joining Gary on stage is Maggie McKenna as Muriel, Madeleine Jones as Rhonda, Justine Clarke as the long suffering Betty, with other members of the Heslop clan played by Briallen Clarke (Joanie), Michael Whalley (Perry) and Connor Sweeney (Malcolm), while Helen Dallimore plays the strangely ever-present beauty consultant, Deidre Chambers.
Celebrating her marriage to Chook (Aaron Tsindos), Tania Degano is brought to life by Christie Whelan Browne, accompanied by a posse of bridesmaids, played by Manon Gunderson Briggs, Hilary Cole and Laura Murphy. Brice Nobes, the first guy to ever ask Muriel on a date, is played by Ben Bennett and Stephen Madsen is Olympic swimming hopeful Alexander Shkuratov.
The 28-strong cast also includes Annie Aitken, Jaime Hadwen, Sheridan Harbridge, Mark Hill, Kaeng Chan, Tony Cogin, Caroline Kaspar, Adrian Li Donni, Luigi Lucente, Kenneth Moraleda and Tom Sharah.
The production, a theatrical version of PJ Hogan’s iconic hit film, has been updated to today by the writer himself, and features original music by Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall alongside those beloved ABBA numbers.
Director Simon Phillips and designer Gabriela Tylesova (Love Never Dies, Ladies in Black and STC’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Dead) lead a stellar creative team which includes choreographer Andrew Hallsworth, lighting designer Trent Suidgeest, sound designer Michael Waters, musical supervisor Guy Simpson and musical director Isaac Hayward.
Muriel’s Wedding The Musical
Roslyn Packer Theatre, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay (Sydney)
Season: 18 November 2017 – 27 January 2018 (previews: 6 – 17 November)
Information and Bookings: www.sydneytheatre.com.au
Image: Gary Sweet – photo by Darren Leigh Roberts