A South Coast beauty will be the star of the stage when Muriel's Wedding The Musical comes to Sydney's Lyric Theatre from June 28.
It's Natalie Abbott's first big break after being cast in the lead of Muriel Heslop, a socially awkward woman whose life ambition is to have a glamorous wedding.
"It was the first time I'd ever seen a character that I related to on so many levels, like, she's so imperfect and real and that's quite rare in any kind of theatre ... even on TV," Abbott told the Mercury.
Originally from Sussex Inlet, then Bomaderry on the NSW South Coast, Abbott played down her foray into performance as "not that exciting". She took singing lessons and competed in eisteddfods, then studied acting and drama at high school before majoring in Musical Theatre at the Australian Institute of Music.
"I got knocked back for every role I've ever auditioned for except for this one," she said.
"This is quite a big first for me, after every audition for this one - every call back - I would call my friends and ask 'is this normal?' because I'd never gotten a call back before."
The show has been playing in Melbourne to rave reviews, including praise from an original cast member of the 1994 movie.
Abbott was in her dressing room post-show after a "surreal" opening night when there was a knock at the door.
"I said 'it's actually a really inconvenient time, like I'm half-naked under my robe and I look disgusting'," she recalled.
"And I opened the door and it was Rachel Griffiths [who played the original Rhonda] which was just amazing.
"She told us she really enjoyed our work and she had a really great time, and took a selfie with me and sent it to Toni Collette [who played the original Muriel]."
Muriel's Wedding The Musical, Sydney's Lyric Theatre from June 28.Tickets from www.ticketmaster.com.au