During her film career, Australian actress Rebel Wilson has immersed herself in the musical genre more than once, especially with the three “Pitch Perfect” films, where she played Fat Amy to much acclaim.
So, for her first attempt at directing a film, it might not come as a shock that she chose a musical comedy adaptation.
And that’s exactly what she did, securing a deal to direct, co-produce and appear (at least for a small role) in ‘The Deb’, which was a hit on stage in Australia. Wilson was at the launch party on a yacht in Cannes this week, where backers Unigram announced the film –– and the director –– to the world.
What is the story of ‘The Deb’?
Originally presented at the Australian Theater for Young People in Sydney in 2022, the theatrical production “The Deb” was written by Hannah Reilly and features original songs by singer-songwriter Meg Washington.
The musical follows lovable farmer and high school outcast Taylah Simpkins (Natalie Abbott), who is certain that the upcoming debutante ball, nicknamed “the Deb”, is her only chance to redefine herself.
When her cynical town cousin Maeve (Charlotte MacInnes) is exiled to Taylah’s drought-stricken Dunburn, she thinks the prom is a “heteronormative shit show” and immediately disrupts the status quo. In their search for the spotlight, Taylah and Maeve dig deep to find self-acceptance – and a date with the Deb.
Here’s what Wilson said about his reasons for directing a musical:
“Because I’ve been on set and done so many musicals, you kind of learn things like how to turn a musical number and how to do the soundtrack, because you’re there and you be a part. I always watched as an actress — watch, watch, watch — and then produced a lot of stuff with musical numbers, like “Senior Year” on Netflix, which had a lot of cheerleading routines. Everyone kept saying, ‘You should lead!’ I just started getting offered movies to be made by studios, so I was like, ‘Oh my God, if I’m going to take a year off my life and not be an actress and be a director, this has got to be is something I’m massively passionate about.
Who will star in “The Deb”?
The film is expected to feature a group of rising Australian stars, including MacInnes and Abbott (reviving their roles) and Stevie Jean. Other cast members in the film include Tara Morice, Jay Laga’aia, Shane Jacobson, and Wilson.
Wilson compared the film to great cultural touchstones of Australian cinema, including “Muriel’s Wedding” and “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”.
The actor said,
“I really like seeing my culture on screen. These films are very important to me and I really wanted to create a film that feels like the modern version of them. These films have such charm, they are so colorful and they are very funny. And they have a real heart for them.
‘The Deb’ doesn’t yet have a release date, but cameras are expected to roll in September.