Rock singer iOTA shot to theatrical fame last year with his breakout role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. The role earned him a swag of awards including a Helpmann Award for Best Male in a Musical.

This year he returns as Frank N Furter in the revival of Richard O’Briens Rocky Horror Show. He spoke to Australian Stage’s Paul Andrew ahead of its Melbourne season later this month.



iOTATell me about your slant on Franknfurter?
It’s important to have a sense of history with this character whilst making him fresh and unique. Tim Curry is the quintessential “Frank n’furter” but I wanted to bring the character into the new Millennium. He is more angry - and brattish (with King Kong influences maybe). With ‘rock star’ elements of Tim Curry - a hybrid of Marilyn Manson, Tim Curry, Willy Wonker!

Your very first encounter with The Rocky Horror Show?
I first saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show at a Midnight Drive–in. It was part of a double feature with the rocky horror follow up Shock Treatment.
 
And have you seen a previous stage version?
My first stage encounter of Rocky was at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Perth starring Daniel Albanieri. I remember how fascinating it was to see the strange mixture of Rock 'n’ Roll meets glamorous theatre. It showed me that we could enter ‘other worlds' that didn’t exist in our reality. I think it was a major part in me becoming a performer.

How did you land this role?
Whilst performing in Hedwig and The Angry Inch, the Producers for Rocky Horror came backstage and asked me if I’d consider singing a couple of songs for them during auditions. I did so, and the rest is history.

How has your role as Hedwig helped with this production?
Hedwig gave me my first opportunity to learn stagecraft. It allowed me to go-through and understand the rehearsal process, the technicalities of musical theatre, acting, directing, walking in high heals!!
 
And - is there a chance that Hedwig will be restaged?
No, not really. It was a wonderful part of my life, which I will treasure, but not re-create.
 
What is your funniest encounter so far with this production?
Rehearsals were a wonderfully amusing period for the production, full of fun and laughter. During performances some mistakes happen – beards falling off, general mishaps but I cannot recall anything specifically amusing.

Is there one particular moment that gives you goose bumps on goose bumps?
Frank n’furter first entrance is a big adrenalin rush but the more you perform a role, the less ‘rush’ you get. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy playing the part or being in the production.

Your mood “ebbs and flows.” I think when we open at The Comedy; my adrenaline will be at an all time hight.

Does this role awaken any childhood memory?
I used to listen the Rocky Horror Album at home. I had a “Kiss” child’s make up kit and used to get made up like Frank n’furter. Then I would perform the whole show to the album.
 
iOTAWhat makes this story so timeless?
Rocky has developed a Cult Status and I think that’s because it contains element from life that we all can identify with and stirs our emotions. Such as, Rock 'n' Roll, Decadence, Sex, titillation. Further more, it’s an Adam & Eve story which is timeless. Just like Romeo and Juliet is the quintessential Love Story.

Who inspires you?
Anyone who lives his or her life without fear. The average Joe who dresses their way without confirming to Fashion rules. People who express themselves without a feeling of judgement. Artists who stick to their art; Tom Waits, Boy George, Marilyn Manson. These people inspire me because I’m not like them. I don’t have that confidence, thus I turn to acting, which allows me to express these desires and emotions.

What keeps you going strong during a gruelling tour?
Friends and sleep
 
And a sneak preview into your indie music future?
I have almost completed my fifth album. I’m not sure if I will have the time to tour but I have recently released an album with a group called Jungle Hammer. It’s a project I would like to tour and play with but for now I’m concentrating on my Musical Theatre/Acting career so the music has taken a backseat for a while.


Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show previews in Melbourne from September 12. Further information»

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