From left are Natalie Abbott, Chalotte MacInnes, Rebel Wilson, and Stevie Jean.
Actress, writer, and producer Rebel Wilson will make her feature directorial debut with an adaptation of a theatre production created through her annual comedy commission program.
Production will begin in September on rural-set musical comedy The Deb, which follows lovable farm girl and high school outcast Taylah Simpkins (Natalie Abbott), who is certain the upcoming Debutante Ball, ‘the Deb,’ is her one chance to redefine herself. When her cynical city cousin Maeve (Charlotte MacInnes) is exiled to Taylah’s drought-stricken town Dunburn, she thinks the ball 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 to the Deb.
Joining Abbott and MacInnes in the cast are Tara Morice, Jay Laga’aia, and Shane Jacobson, with Wilson also set to appear.
Amanda Ghost, Len Blavatnik, and Gregor Cameron will produce for Unigram and sister company AI Film, working in partnership with Wilson’s Camp Sugar Productions and Bunya Productions. Danny Cohen will executive produce on behalf of Access Entertainment.
The Deb theatre production was written by Hannah Reilly and includes original songs from singer-songwriter Meg Washington. Established in 2019, the Rebel Wilson Comedy Commission is available for young female-identifying writers (aged 18-26), offering a $15,000 play writing commission and the opportunity to spend 12 months at the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP). After winning the scholarship in 2019, The Deb premiered at the ATYP’s Rebel Theatre last April.
Wilson said the story was “full of humour, full of heart, and uniquely Australian but with universal themes”.
“If there was ever a movie I was going to direct, it would be this one,” she said.
“This project is just so special and original. Hannah and Meg have done an outstanding job writing it, and to collaborate with Amanda, Len, Gregor, and the team at Bunya down under has been amazing. We’re utilising the best musical resources in the world and the most fantastic Australian talent to bring this project to the screen.”