Role 27 years in the making

South Africa - Cape Town - 140319. Actor Craig Urbani talks about the role as the slick lawyer Billy Flynn in the razzle dazzle musical Chicago. Photographer: Ian landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Twenty-seven years after he first starred in the production, Craig Urbani is back in The Rocky Horror Show, this time in the lead role of Dr Frank-N-Furter.

In 1992, when the musical was first staged, he played Rocky Horror, the creature, created by Frank-N-Furter and Riff Raff.

Since then, he said, he had wanted to play the role of Frank-N-Furter.

“It just feels right. Whenever people asked what role I wanted to play, I always said Frank.”

Initially, he said, his agent had felt he was too old for the role, but Craig felt he could pull it off.

He describes his character as an eccentric, crazy and fun man.

“He’s dangerous, unpredictable, switches constantly between masculine and feminine. He’s funny one

second and a bit strange the next.

You have no idea what he’s going to do,” he said.

Craig said he had been playing the role for many years in his head and it was great to finally put it on the streets.

“It’s a gift, It’s like a dream – a fantastic one – and I’m happy to breathe life into this character,” he said.

He said the role is physically challenging because the story revolves around him largely so one has to be mentally, vocally, emotionally and physically prepared for it.

Touching on the production process, Craig said the show was an easy one to get wrong and while the creative team knew it very well, they hadn’t approached it with a set idea of how the cast should play their roles.

“They gave us room to explore and create our own thing, as long as what we were doing was serving the piece,” he said.

He said the show was going back to what was originally intended.

“It’s retaining the essence of what Richard O’Brien (who wrote the screenplay) wanted from the story.

“It’s telling the story and paying respect to the movie of which a lot of people have fond memories,” he said.

Craig said he pays respect to Tim Curry’s performance in the screen version, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which he believes immortalised the film.

Fans of the film, he said, would get what they’ve come to expect: naughtiness, sexiness, freedom and getting lost in a beautiful crazy story. “There’s nostalgia to it because it is a piece that has stood the test of time and it will bring back a lot of memories for many people. They will be moved by the story,” he said.