Actors hit back at producers' claims over McLachlan

NEWS: Ian Molly Meldrum at the National Library of Australia to talk about his book "The Never, Um, Ever Ending Story".27th October 2014. Photo by Melissa Adams of The Canberra Times.
NEWS: Ian Molly Meldrum at the National Library of Australia to talk about his book "The Never, Um, Ever Ending Story".27th October 2014. Photo by Melissa Adams of The Canberra Times.

The three actors who raised allegations of indecent assault and sexual harassment by Gold Logie award-winning actor Craig McLachlan have hit back at claims by the producers of The Rocky Horror Show that the company knew nothing about McLachlan's behaviour until a Fairfax and ABC investigation aired their claims on Monday.

Actors Erika Heynatz and Angela Scundi have made complaints to Victoria Police alleging that a number of actors in the 2014 Rocky Horror Show were subjected to McLachlan touching their genitals, groping their breasts, exposing himself and pressing his penis against them.

Some of the inappropriate touching of genitals is alleged to have occurred when female cast members were on stage performing and McLachlan could not be seen by the audience.

In a statement issued on Monday announcing that McLachlan would be stood down from the current Rocky Horror Show, the Gordon Frost Organisation said it was "shocked" to learn of the allegations and that the production company was "not aware of any details of these allegations until they were published in the media".

GFO acknowledged it had previously received legal letters but that they "contained no details of the claims or the claimants".

"For GFO to say they had no details of the complaint prior to our going to the media is not true," said Heynatz. "Our first letter through our lawyers provided a bullet point list of explicitly inappropriate behaviour by Craig McLachlan."

She said that there was "more than enough detail" for GFO to recognise that the allegations raised were serious and warranted investigation. "But instead they threatened to sue us for defamation."

Another of those to have allegedly been indecently assaulted by McLachlan during the performance is Christie Whelan Browne, who had the lead female role of Janet in the 2014 production.

She said that in their legal letter they raised "touching of genitals, groping of breasts" and other things.

"The only thing we didn't mention [in the letter to GFO] was our names because we didn't feel safe to do so.

"So they knew about all these allegations and their responses were: prove it, we don't believe it, Mr McLachlan denies it, our cast members are safe and we can sue you for defamation if you continue down this road."

Heynatz said the fact that all GFO appeared to care about was discovering their names "highlights that perhaps we were right all along in assuming there wasn't any support for us back then".

Whelan Browne, said it was an "out and out lie" for GFO to claim "no complaint was ever made formally or informally".

She said there were people in management positions who were informed about McLachlan and that she and another cast member raised their concerns about McLachlan with managing director John Frost on the same day in 2014.

Scundi said GFO's response was "incredibly disappointing". She also said it was upsetting that GFO, which is the country's major force in musical theatre, failed to offer them an apology.

As to McLachlan's contention that the women's "baseless" allegations were "perhaps made for financial reasons, perhaps to gain notoriety", Whelan Browne said: "You don't do this for notoriety, I don't want to be associated with Craig McLachlan for the rest of my life."

"You don't do it for money," she said, pointing out that the women had paid for their own lawyers. "I risked my career, there's no money to be made. You do it for other women and for yourself."

Meanwhile, it appears that it wasn't just women who were allegedly subjected to McLachlan's inappropriate behaviour.

A male crew member on one of McLachlan's shows has approached police after Fairfax Media and the ABC revealed that the actor had indecently assaulted and harassed female cast members.

McLachlan himself has detailed previous questionable behaviour in an earlier production of Rocky Horror.

In music legend Ian "Molly" Meldrum's autobiography, Ah Well, Nobody's Perfect, McLachlan recounted an incident in the late '90s when Meldrum filled in on Rocky Horror as the narrator.

"I couldn't help myself this night," said McLachlan, who explained in the book that he was off stage and the audience couldn't see him.

"As Molly was reading his piece, I glided my seven-inch stiletto heel on to the back of his trouser leg. By the time I got to his knee, the audience could see my shoe. I continued up ... I located where I imagined his arsehole to be.

"Molly looked down ready to give me a good serve, but I had manipulated my dick out of my G-string and was wildly swinging my member. My stiletto is a good four inches up his arse and I'm whipping my member around.

"It was too much for Molly. He lost it and said, 'Craig, you are awful to me!'

"'I'm Frank-N-Furter, you idiot'," I hissed. 'If you're gonna lose it, at least stay in character!'"

In more recent times McLachlan played a joke on a male colleague, sources claimed. McLachlan asked him to check if there was anything on his shoulder. When the man came closer to have a look, McLachlan took the opportunity to grab his genitals.

GFO confirmed in a statement on Tuesday that McLachlan would be replaced by his understudy Adam Rennie in the Adelaide run of The Rocky Horror Show.

The Sydney-born actor previously played Eddie and Dr Scott in the production, however his time in the spotlight will be short-lived as the Adelaide run wraps up on Saturday.

Rennie's move into the lead role will see Geoffrey Winter take over as Eddie and Dr Scott. Cast members have also taken to social media to urge people to still support the show.

A spokeswoman for Adelaide ticketing company BASS admitted they had received a "small number" of complaints from people wanting a refund in the wake of the allegations and McLachlan stepping away from the production.

"After consultation with The Rocky Horror Show producers, BASS will not provide refunds because of the use of an understudy or patron change of mind," she said. "This practice is standard across the ticketing industry and is consistent with the ticketing code of practice."

This story Actors hit back at producers' claims over McLachlan first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.