Muriel’s Wedding the Musical was honoured with two awards at the Australian Writers’ Guild’s AWGIE Awards last night in Sydney, with writer PJ Hogan receiving the Music Theatre Award and the 2018 David Williamson Prize. The David Williamson Prize is awarded each year to the most outstanding script selected from the winners of the four theatre categories, and is worth $100,000. $20,000 of the Prize is awarded to the playwright of the winning theatre script, while $80,000 goes to the theatre company that commissioned and developed the work – in this case Sydney Theatre Company and Global Creatures – with the express purpose of commissioning, developing and programming a new Australian work.
Muriel’s Wedding the Musical. Photo © Lisa Tomasetti
The theatrical version of PJ Hogan’s iconic Australian film, adapted by the writer himself, was already the recipient of five Helpmann Awards and seven Sydney Theatre Awards – not to mention a five star review from Limelight. With music and lyrics by Australian award-winning songwriters Kate Miller-Heidke and Keir Nuttall, and additional songs by the much-loved band ABBA, the musical was one of the highlights of Sydney’s theatre scene in 2017.
Co-producer of Muriel’s Wedding the Musical and Global Creatures CEO, Carmen Pavlovic, said, “PJ’s double win is a well-earned testimony to the wit, intelligence, truth and boldness with which he adeptly translated his beloved film into Muriel’s Wedding the Musical on stage.”
The 51st Annual AWGIE Awards, which were presented at City Recital Hall in Sydney, were judged solely by writers, and the writer’s intention as portrayed in the written script was one of the determining factors in deciding the nominations. The other nominees for the Music Theatre Award were Barbara and the Camp Dogs by Alana Valentine and Ursula Yovich, and Stephen Vizard’s Vigil.
Other AWGIE winners include Michele Lee’s play Rice, which took out the Stage category and Bradley Slabe’s Lost & Found, a dialogue-free animated short film that was first awarded the AWGIE for the Animation category before winning the 2018 Major Award; the Major Award is selected from the winners of each of the eighteen AWGIE Awards categories.
Australian playwright and screenwriter, and winner of the AWGIE Lifetime Achievement Award, Sue Smith reflected that, “Every generation of writers we produce in this country stands on the shoulders of the pioneering work of the generation of playwrights and screenwriters before them, and hopefully learn all over again from the generation after them.”
Muriel’s Wedding the Musical will play a strictly limited season in Melbourne at Her Majesty’s Theatre from March 2019 before returning to Sydney in July 2019, playing at the Sydney Lyric Theatre