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From hundreds of audition tapes and an intense musical boot camp, down to four fantastic finalists, one lucky performer has been crowned MAMMA MIA!’s leading lady, set to play Sophie Sheridan.   

It’s any young performer’s dream to be a part of a renowned production like MAMMA MIA! – and Matt Ward Entertainment and radio station, 1029 Hot Tomato, have offered one talented local star the chance of a lifetime right here on the Gold Coast.

Madeline Grice, the 25- year-old local performer from Ashmore was today announced the winner of the MAMMA MIA! Star Search, officially landing the lead role in the smash-hit musical, on stage this June 19 to July 11 at The Star Gold Coast.

Matt Ward, who has been a champion of local arts and artists and has enjoyed a stellar career on the stage, was certain the Gold Coast would unearth a new and emerging talent, ready to shine in his latest production.

“There is so much untapped talent here on the Gold Coast – we have seen this for years in our youth base programs at Matt Ward Entertainment – and we were on a mission to help launch the career of the Gold Coast’s next future star,” he said.

“We knew we wouldn’t have to go far to find our Gold Coast ‘Sophie Sheridan’, and as expected, when the audition tapes rolled in, we were spoilt for choice.”

Following the two-day boot camp with 16 performers, Matt and his creative team narrowed the finalists down to four, all of whom were oozing talent in their own unique ways.

“1029 Hot Tomato listeners were encouraged to vote, and we are thrilled that the Gold Coast went to such lengths to show their support, ultimately recognising Madeline, whose vitality and persona captures exactly who we pictured our Sophie to be”, said Matt.

Originally from Ashburton in New Zealand, Madeline moved to the Gold Coast when she was 6-years-old, with her passion for performing emerging from the age of 2, where she said it took over her life and she completely fell in love with being on stage. 

“Growing up, I was in productions such as Annie, Anne of Green Gables and Return to the Forbidden Planet, before I suffered an injury that meant I had to stop doing what I love,” recalls Madeline.

“I was 15 when I was sidelined and I have been keeping involved with music and acting lessons ever since, purely because I loved it, but by the time I was recovered enough to reinvolve myself, I felt like the ship had sailed and I was too nervous to put myself back out there.”

In what was certainly serendipity, Madeline grew up listening to ABBA with a mother who was a “complete fanatic” and pet pig called Fernando.

“I not only loved the music but also that the production features two strong leading ladies.”

“My dad passed away when I was younger, so to see a single mother, daughter relationship play out to the soundtrack of one of my favourite bands… I can understand why I was and still am so drawn and attached to the story. Not to mention, it’s also so fun, colourful and I love that people know the songs so they can sing along!” she said.

As the winner of Matt Ward Entertainment and 1029 Hot Tomato’s Star Search, Madeline will receive a 6-week paid cast contract for the 2021 Gold Coast production of MAMMA MIA! starring as Sophie Sheridan, as well as four months of intensive vocal training with Matt Ward Vocal Studios.   

MAMMA MIA! tells the much-loved story of Sophie, a young bride-to-be whose quest to discover the identity of her father draws three men from her mother’s past back to a Greek Island on the eve of her wedding, set to the toe-tapping songs of ABBA.

And singing along to the classic ABBA hits is exactly what the Gold Coast is set to do, as MAMMA MIA! plays for a three-week season at The Star Gold Coast from June 19 to July 11.

Tickets are on sale now via or  

Details on the full lead cast and ensemble are set to be announced next month.

For more information on Matt Ward Entertainment or MAMMA MIA! the musical, head to the website:

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