Before he once again dons the trademark corset and fishnets of the deliciously evil Dr. Frank N. Furter in the latest stellar production of the cult musical, The Rocky Horror Show, Craig McLachlan took the time to tell us of his long history with the immortal show.
“That’s a very good question,” McLachlan says, sounding pleased, when we ask how he first connected with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “And you’re the only person who has asked me that question, so I’m thrilled, so now I can give you the story of my Rocky origins, as it were.”
McLachlan’s first encounter with Rocky Horror took place in the mid ‘70s – “Now I sound like Mr Peabody and Sherman in the Wayback Machine!” he jokes – when, as a curious kid and budding guitarist, he regularly raided his elder brother’s record collection. One day, he came across something different nestled amongst the Cream and Stones albums.
“He had the Australian Cast recording of The Rocky Horror Show on vinyl. It was a single album but it was in a double gatefold cover. There was this bizarre looking dripping blood font and I opened the double gatefold and, well, I couldn’t tell if they were women, whether they were men, whether they were half women/half men – what the fuck are these people? What are these beings? I had no idea as a kid what the concept was, what The Rocky Horror Show was, but I put that record on and it was like the best of Buddy Holly And The Crickets but with really bizarre lyrics and I just fell in love with it musically. Part of my home music schooling was playing along to Science Fiction and Sweet Transvestite – as a kid I didn’t even know what a transvestite was!”
That might have been the end of it, but years later, in what McLachlan calls his “Crazy David Cassidy period,” riding high on his Neighbours popularity and the success of his band, Check 1-2, a technical difficulty on a UK breakfast programme brought him an unexpected opportunity. “We went on to flog whatever single it was at the time over there but there was no audio on the music video. I kind of cracked a gag and said, ‘Listen, we haven’t flown from the other side of the wall not to get on the air and flog this song,’ so I went out to the car, grabbed my guitar, grabbed the boys in the band and we just sat down and did this impromptu gig on this morning show – turned a negative into a positive. It turned out Richard O’Brien was at home and watching this thing, so I get this phone call about an hour later,” her McLachlan switches instantly into a spot-on impression of O’Brien. “‘Darling, Richard O’Brien from The Rocky Horror Show. Loved the impromptu gig on the television this morning. Wondered if you’d like to join us for a one-off charity performance of The Rocky Horror Show?’”
McLachlan immediately said yes, little realising that the performance was the very next night. Still, it all worked out. “I was playing Eddie the rocker – the Meatloaf role people might remember from the film – and Dr Scott in the wheelchair. So, we had a soundcheck, we had a run through the songs and that was it. Chrissie Hynde was playing the usherette singing Science Fiction, and it was just a great night! It was fantastic!”
And they’ve all been great nights ever since.
Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show is on at Crown Theatre from Thursday, February 13, until Sunday, March 9. Book your tickets here.