“It’s astounding… time is fleeting… madness takes its toll…”
Since its 1973 premiere, The Rocky Horror Show has captivated audiences around the world.
From its iconic soundtrack to its extravagant stage performances, the show has left a lasting impression on society, becoming a staple of the counter-culture movement and a symbol of self-expression and individuality.
Returning now for its 50th anniversary tour, audiences are in for a night like no other! With a star studded cast including Jason Donovan, Myf Warhurst, Stellar Perry, Ellis Dolan, Darcey Eagle, Ethan Jones, Deirdre Khoo, Loredo Malcolm, and Henry Rollo, come visit the Frankenstein place and have the most memorable night of your life.
Henry Rollo plays the role of the mysterious and maniacal handyman Riff Raff, one originated by the show’s creator Richard O’Brien himself. A graduate of the VCA, Henry was most recently seen in the ensemble of the Australian premiere cast of Jagged Little Pill (cover Andrew/Phoenix/Nick). Other stage credits include Wes in The View Upstairs, Leaf in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Hanschen in Spring Awakening, RENT, and The Songs of Cy Coleman. When not performing on stage Henry is a musician, with an album set to release in the near future.
Can you tell me about your history with The Rocky Horror Show?
Henry: I actually hadn’t seen the film until after I saw a production in 2008, the one that was starring Iota. My family knew what it was, and it seemed to be something from a different era that my parents generation knew, but I just had somehow missed it. When I saw it, I was… taken aback in a wonderful way, because I’d never seen anything like it. I’d also never seen an audience in a musical react to a show like that, very immersed, almost the another cast member. So I was just kind of enamoured by what an absurd, creative piece it was. And, for my young country town self, I was a bit blindsided by how risque it was. I just kind of fell in love with it. I’ve obviously watched the movie a lot since then, and I’ve seen every other production that’s come over the last decade.
How have you found working on the show?
Henry: It’s been amazing, to be honest. It’s a really unique and talented group of people, so I feel really privileged to be in the room with them. I feel like every single person in the show is a little bit ‘left of centre’ and perhaps not the conventional idea of how these archetypal characters would usually be cast. And that really suits the show, I think.
Do you see any of yourself in Riff Raff?
Henry: I definitely do. I relate to the way he can be misunderstood whilst holding his cards close to his chest. I think that’s something a lot of people who are introverts can relate to. I’m also just actually loving that I can finally embrace my naturally gangly physique for once [chuckles]. It occurred to me in the rehearsal room that it’s usually something I’m trying to hide, whereas being unique and different and a bit absurd is something that’s celebrated here, and I feel like I can finally flex those muscles.
What’s been the most challenging part of working on the role?
Henry: The role is deceptively really quite vocally challenging. It’s some really hard material, I think. The stage version of Riff Raff is a little different to to Richard’s screen performance in a wonderful way, and I deliberately haven’t rewatched the movie so that I can kind of interpret it my own way. The other thing is because it’s 50th year anniversary production, I feel a bit of freedom to just go for it in a new direction.
Why should audiences come and see The Rocky Horror Show?
Henry: It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and yet it it celebrates imagination and uniqueness. It’s so playful and knowingly absurd; I just think that there’s nothing like it. And even though it’s a homage to sci fi and B-side Horror, and things that are not necessarily considered ‘timeless’, there’s something about it that just lives in this timeless spot where it’ll never go out of style. I also think that, arguably the most important line in the show, is “don’t dream it, be it” – a simple yet beautiful and timeless sentiment that I don’t think will ever stop being relevant.
The Rocky Horror Show opens on Tuesday 12th February at Sydney’s Theatre Royal, before touring to Adelaide and Melbourne.
For tickets and more information, visit rockyhorror.com.au
Header photo by Pierre Toussaint