Jake Warner stars in Muriel’s Wedding The Musical

By John Lewis

When Shepparton’s Jacob Warner left school as a fresh-faced dreamer, he had no idea where the actor’s life might take him.

‘‘I had no mates or family members involved in theatre or acting. I had no idea any of this was possible — but I just knew I had to give it a go,’’ Mr Warner, 29, said.

His talent was nurtured in Shepparton’s Notre Dame Secondary College’s musical productions such as Chicago and Beauty and the Beast and later in small theatre and film productions in Melbourne.

Thirteen years later, he has an impressive list of theatre, television and film credits to his name, including The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet for Bell Shakespeare, Orfeo et Euridice, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, TV series Dr Feelgood, Mel Gibson’s movie Hacksaw Ridge and the upcoming Ride Like a Girl about jockey Michelle Payne who won the 2015 Melbourne Cup.

In 2016, Mr Warner received a Best Actor nomination at the Sydney Theatre Awards.

His latest credit is a role in the Melbourne production of the hit show Muriel’s Wedding The Musical, which premiered in Sydney in 2017.

Mr Warner plays Muriel’s layabout brother Perry Heslop.

‘‘He’s a bit dim-witted, he lives in his own fantasy world — and he doesn’t have to sing that well, which is fortunate for me. He provides the comic relief,’’ Mr Warner said.

He said his fellow cast members were all excellent singers, dancers and actors.

‘‘It’s an incredible show — very funny. The musical score by Kate Miller-Heidke is amazing and the choreography is incredible,’’ he said.

‘‘I saw the show in Sydney and I loved it. Simon Phillips’ direction is so precise — he really knows what he’s doing. I’m having a ball.’’

After spending time in Melbourne, Mr Warner moved to Sydney to join the prestigious Actors Centre Australia.

Despite his growing list of credits, Mr Warner said he still had to supplement his earnings with stints in retail stores such as Myer.

‘‘There are always gaps — that’s an actor’s life, really. Last year I had four days of film work and then six weeks of theatre work — but it’s not enough to sustain you,’’ he said.

‘‘Now Muriel’s Wedding will keep me busy for nine months, but, of course, I (am) missing out on other work then too.’’

He said he felt he was at a stage in his career when he could make more careful choices.

‘‘It becomes a bit more political now. I want to work on ethical stories, perhaps with a female director. I want to tell stories that are helping improve the situation. I don’t want to just tell white guys’ stories, I want different narratives,’’ he said.

He believed Muriel’s Wedding told a positive story for women.

‘‘She doesn’t have a place in the world, she’s awkward and doesn’t fit in. But she finds her way — and when I think of young women coming to see this show and feeling inspired — that’s really exciting,’’ he said.

Muriel’s Wedding The Musical with Natalie Abbott in the title role opens at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne on March 23, with preview shows from March 12.

Tickets from www.ticketek.com.au

It plays at Sydney Lyric Theatre from July 4 with previews from June 28.

Tickets from www.ticketmaster.com.au