AIM Celebrates Muriel’s Wedding

It’s not every day that someone lands their dream role in a huge stage production spanning five months and three cities – and even rarer that it’s their first professional stage production.

Enter 23-year-old Australian Institute of Music (AIM) alumni Natalie Abbott, who stepped into the lead role of Muriel Heslop in the 2019 seasons of Muriel’s Wedding The Musical.

With another three alumni in the production, Natalie is one of many examples of the calibre of AIM graduates who have made their mark on the Australian Performing Arts industry. 

From a young age Natalie enjoyed performing in front of people but came to a crossroads when she finished school and had to decide whether to pursue acting or singing. A friend suggested she combine her two passions by studying Music Theatre and the rest is history, but it wasn’t straightforward.

“I actually really struggled in my first year. I was shocked at how difficult it was, plus moving up to Sydney from the South Coast was also tough, so it was all a bit overwhelming.”

Natalie kept at it and eventually it all clicked.

“I got the chance to perform a solo piece - it was ABBA’s ‘The Winner Takes It All’ - and I had lots of people coming up to me saying that I had done really well and that I had a great voice.

“While I was a bit uncertain about myself and what I was studying, after performing that piece I knew for sure that Music Theatre was what I wanted to do.”

Asked what she enjoyed most about her time at AIM, Natalie says she built up a strong camaraderie with her fellow Music Theatre students, connections which she still has to this day.

Her teachers were also a great inspiration to her. Natalie credits their continued support and mentorship with a role in her success.

Maggie McKenna, who was cast as the lead in the original season, headed to the United States for a national tour of Dear Evan Hansen

As for Natalie’s future, she’s hesitant about working overseas. 

“It would obviously be great to go and do that one day but at the same time I also kind of want to stay here in Australia.

“There is so much great talent here, from actors to directors and everyone in-between. I remember we used to perform these really great musicals written by my Music Theatre teacher at AIM but apart from that the scripts would just sit unused and unread under his bed.”

In any case, big things lie ahead for Natalie as she looks to embark on what will most likely be the most challenging yet rewarding experience of her life so far. 

Founded over 50 years ago, the Australian Institute of Music pairs cutting-edge technology and facilities with experienced teaching staff from practical, industry-based backgrounds.

The AIM community lives and breathes music and the performing arts. On campus you’ll be surrounded by likeminded creatives that will challenge you to advance your own artistic development while preparing you for the rigours of the Australian Performing Arts industry.

To find out more or to book a tour, visit

Photographer: Jeff Busby

Check out Performing Arts Courses across the country in our 2020 Course Guide