Muriel star surfing all the way to top with dream role
Muriel's Wedding The Musical star Natalie Abbot was working in a surf shop when she got the phone call that changed her life.
"I was unrepresented at the time I went for the audition,
I didn't even know auditions were happening but my best mate basically bullied me into doing it," Abbott tells Insider ahead of the show's official opening at the Sydney Lyric this week.
"I didn't want to do it, I thought there's no way in hell I will get this.
"I sent in a self tape singing Why Can't That Be Me from the musical and I got an audition and, eventually, eight call backs.
"So there I was in the middle of Westfield anxiously waiting to hear how I went and trying not to build myself up too much. But I have to say it was a really good feeling to resign from that surf shop."
Abbott, 23, says there's a fine line between simply redoing what Toni Collette famously did in the 1994 movie and putting her own stamp on the role. She admits there will be a lot of expectation from the audience who love the story and character already.
And it's not just great expectations from the film's success she feels, but also the musical's amazing first stage run last year with Maggie McKenna loudly lauded in the title role.
"What I'm trying to do is recreate the feeling Toni Collette gives Muriel so when people are watching the musical they feel the same thing," Abbott says.
"No one put pressure on me, it wasn't like 'Don't mess this up or you'll break hearts across Australia'.
"But I did put pressure on myself because I want to do a good job.
It gets to a certain point though where you just have to trust what you're doing."
Abbott, who like Muriel grew up in a small town on the NSW south coast and moved to the city to realise her dreams, says her life has undoubtedly changed with this role.
"This has exceeded my expectations in every possible way," she says. "I had my first couple of shows off recently and all I was wishing is that I was back at the theatre working.
"It's both physically and vocally demanding, you don't even get a pee break through the show. But I am living the dream in every possible way right now."
Muriel's Wedding The Musical, Sydney Lyric Theatre; first night Thursday, until September 8, ticketmaster.com.au