With the star of Little Orphan trAshley currently the toast of the town in New York, the Star Observer instead spoke to theatre veteran Rhonda Burchmore about her supporting (and rather scene-stealing) turn in Trevor Ashley’s ‘adult panto’, which makes its Melbourne and Brisbane debut in July after a sellout Christmas run in Sydney.
“I’m usually fairly ‘safe’ in terms of your Legs Eleven, your Cry Me A River, your Mamma Mia, but I’ve admired Trevor for years and wondered if I had the courage to work with him on a show like this,” Burchmore told us.
“My good friend [actor] Garry McDonald once said ‘If you go out there, you’ve got to have the guts of a burglar,’ which is a great saying – you’ve got to do it without apology and throw yourself into it.”
Indeed she does, playing the role of Miss Trannigan to the hilt in this loose and oh-so-rude reworking of the classic musical Annie. Ashley is Fannie, a ten-year-old inmate of the Sutherland Shire orphanage for talented children with a secret weighing on her mind: she’s not yet
This tongue-in-cheek tackling of trans issues already raised the ire of some during the show’s Sydney run, and Burchmore said she had no doubts Ashley would offend a few in Melbourne and Brisbane.
“It’s wrong in every way, but so right because it’s such a fun night out,” she said.
“The thing with Trevor is he’s such a genius in so many fields, and he’ll change lines to make the show more current – no-one and nothing will be safe. But he writes it on the fly and just does it, whereas [co-star] Gary Sweet and I would like more than one or two days with a current script before we hit the stage…”
Sweet takes on the role of Daddy Warhorse, a multi-millionaire photographer modeled after Annie’s own Daddy Warbucks. And while Burchmore’s Miss Trannigan took initial inspiration from Annie’s Miss Hannigan, she’s ended up more akin to the boozier, brassier sister of Ab Fab’s Patsy Stone.
“I had so much fun doing it in Sydney. Going to rehab, swigging from people’s drinks, traipsing around the theatre with a bottle of Bombay Gin…what fun!
“And I’m so looking forward to shocking the socks off them here in my hometown. ‘Rhonda Burchmore: last seen on Carols By Candlelight, now appearing as Miss Trannigan’,” she cackled.
For Burchmore, the show has been a chance to tap into an alter ego birthed by mistake in London – one who now threatens to upstage the
“My nickname in certain circles is Ruda, as a result of a misprint when I was doing a show in London and they called me Ruda Brickmore. Ruda was really unleashed at Trevor’s show… and now she’s taken on a life of her own.”