WHEN The Rocky Horror Show’s national tour premiered in Brisbane last Friday, the audience were given an extra treat with creator Richard O’Brien being a surprise guest and joining the chorus in singing The Time Warp.
However, a more special reunion took place backstage as O’Brien, the original Riff Raff, reconnected with Kristian Lavercombe, who was reprising the role for the sixth time – which previously included playing the hunched character for the 40th anniversary production in London recently.
Lavercombe took time between a busy schedule on Sunday, still in costume, to talk about O’Brien and his character to the Star Observer.
“I have played other roles in Rocky Horror but this role keeps coming back and I adore playing Riff Raff,” he confessed.
O’Brien was the narrator in the New Zealand tour, and played Riff Raff in the 1975 film adaptation of Rocky Horror.
Lavercombe worked closely with him in NZ, which he described as an “incredibly special” experience.
He added it was “absolutely amazing” to have had O’Brien in Brisbane for the opening.
When talking about the role of Riff Raff in front of O’Brien, Lavercombe’s expression changed as he leaned closer and almost whispered: “It is incredibly daunting. For me he is the ultimate Riff Raff. When anyone thinks of Riff Raff they think of Richard O’Brien.
“If I can come even a little bit close to his rock ’n’ roll godliness then I will be happy.”
Riff Raff is the hunched-back, long haired, deathly-looking character who does not fit the cookie cutter of physical attractiveness.
Lavercombe linked this directly back to its creator: “Richard O’Brien says and believes that you can be whoever you want to be and you don’t worry about what anybody else thinks. The man is an inspiration.
“Riff Raff is the archetype of all the old films. The hunchback – the put- upon sidekick that always gets the raw end of the deal.”
Lavercombe did hint of better fortunes, though: “It might not end up like that.”
The positive feedback from the Brisbane opening night has been raved by many theatre critics, especially with O’Brien as the surprise guest.
Brisbane nightclub and DJ identity Harry Katsanevas said: “Opening night was just perfect. A lot of people got dressed up as their favourite Rocky Horror characters which added to the awesome atmosphere.
“I had no idea Richard O’Brien was going to be there. At the end of the show Craig McLachlan got on the mike and announced we have a special guest and then bam – Richard O’Brien appeared on stage. It was such a surreal moment.
“I was overwhelmed at the fact the creator of such a cult classic was in our town of Brisbane to celebrate 40 years of his phenomena.”
Katsanevas also singled out Lavercombe for his performance.
“Kristian played the role Riff Raff perfectly,” he said.
“Him and Craig (McLachlan) were the stand-outs for the show. Craig as Frank N Furter was absolutely amazing. (He) played it perfectly.”
DETAILS: The Rocky Horror Picture Show is playing in Brisbane until February 9, then Perth February 14-March 9, Adelaide March 20-April 13, and Melbourne from April 24-June 22. For information and tickets visit rockyhorror.com.au