AMANDA Harrison took a risk in 1997 that may not have gone according to plan at the time but clearly paid off in the long run – she quit WAAPA six weeks in to her three-year course.
“It was a really devastating choice at the time but I left to do Sunset Boulevard and kiss Hugh Jackman every night, which was amazing,” Harrison said.
“I joined the company and seven weeks later we closed. There was this horrendous moment where I’d given up three years of study for seven weeks of work but then during that seven weeks I got an agent and had a foot in the industry and then things took off after that.
“Regret is too hard a word but I would have loved that opportunity to do three years of study. I often look at the people who have gone through that institution and it’s not necessarily the training but the relationships they form which is really something special.”
The Melbourne-based music theatre performer went on to star in We Will Rock You, An Officer and a Gentleman and Wicked as Elphaba which has seen her team up with fellow Wicked alumni Lucy Durack, Jemma Rix and Helen Dallimore for Witches concerts, including one at Joondalup Resort for Valentine’s Day.
The four recorded a Witches album at ABC Perth between the Joondalup concert and the Perth season opening of Rocky Horror Show, where Harrison features as Magenta.
“Magenta is just somebody who doesn’t mind flying her freak flag,” Harrison said.
“She’s a sexual deviant and is completely besotted by her brother; they’re a team and she’s a crazy alien. It’s just a really fun character to play and my director told me the more opportunities I get to act like a supermodel the better, even though I’m only five foot three, because she’s in her own supermodel world.
“You always feel like a character is yours, so you always have to come from your own special place when you’re creating characters. You can draw on everything around you (YouTube, films) but in the end it’s you having to bust it out.”
Rocky Horror Show officially opens tonight with creator Richard O’Brien as The Narrator and WAAPA graduate Adam Rennie in the role of Frank N Furter who took over after Craig McLachlan’s sudden departure in January following sexual misconduct allegations.
“It was a really interesting time for the company and did feel like someone had died because one week he was there and then the next he wasn’t and we haven’t seen him since,” Harrison said.
“That transition period was difficult but it was also incredibly exciting with Adam stepping in. That first performance of his was a mixture of excitement and nerves and wondering what the hell was going to happen with this show? He just smashed it and we were so glad a couple of days after that he was given the nod to take it over.”
The addition of O’Brien for the Perth season is also a dream for Harrison who is beside the music theatre legend at the end of each show.
“There’s only been a couple of times in my life where I’ve got to work with the people who’ve created those shows, like Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen (We Will Rock You),” she said.
“I stand next to him in the bow and when the audience clap and cheer, he’s next to me audibly laughing and enjoying that. Every night he must think ‘It’s because of me’. These people are loving this show and it would be just an amazing thing to achieve.”
What: Rocky Horror Show
Where: Crown Theatre Perth
When: until March 4