Entertainment / Arts And Books

Michelle Loewenstein
4 minute read
22 Jan 2014
6:00 am

Brendan van Rhyn set to do the Time Warp Again

Michelle Loewenstein

The first time I met Brendan van Rhyn was when he was starring in The Rocky Horror Show at The Victory Theatre.

DOUBLE TROUBLE. Brendan van Rhyn plays Dr Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show. Pictures: Tracy Lee Stark.

When I arrived for the interview, I was greeted by a seven-foot man in hotpants and fishnets, paired with a casual T-shirt.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but the duality of his outfit epitomised all that is Van Rhyn. It’s almost impossible to imagine that the warm, relaxed guy who loves staying at home watching the Crime and Investigation channel is the man behind characters like glamorous trolley dolly Cathy Specific or madcap scientist Frank N Furter.

“I’m at my best in lipstick and heels,” he says with a grin.

Brendan Van Rhyn poses for a picture during an interview for The Citizen newspaper, 20 January 2014.  He plays the role of Dr Frank-N- Furter in the The Rocky Horror, which will be on stage at Monte Casino.  Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Brendan Van Rhyn poses for a picture during an interview for The Citizen newspaper, 20 January 2014. He plays the role of Dr Frank-N- Furter in the The Rocky Horror, which will be on stage at Monte Casino. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Van Rhyn has reprised his role as Dr Frank in the Fugard Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show, which starts its Johannesburg run at Pieter Toerien’s Studio Theatre at Montecasino this weekend.

Despite the fact that he earned rave reviews and a Naledi Award nomination when he first played the role, he had to audition alongside all the other hopefuls in Cape Town.

“When the auditions came up, I thought: I’m a Joburg boy and this is a Cape Town part. If I don’t get it, will I jump off Table Mountain?” His deep laugh echoes through his cosy, stylish Benmore apartment.

“I had to go through the whole process of ‘Hi, I’m Brendan, here’s my CV’ and ‘thank you very much’. It was a frightening thing, standing in front of six people again and auditioning.”

Van Rhyn admits he is in the fortunate position of being able to choose roles that he is passionate about, as Cathy keeps him busy at corporate functions, as well as with her appearances in Madame Zingara. Being in The Rocky Horror Show has meant that Cathy’s career has had to be put on hold.

“I like to tell people that she’s taken a break to get some work done. There are some things that you do with your heart – and there are things that you do with your head. Playing Frank was definitely a decision I made with my heart,” he smiles. “When I took my last bow at The Victory Theatre as Frank, I thought: I need to play this role again.”

Brendan Van Rhyn poses for a picture during an interview for The Citizen newspaper, 20 January 2014.  He plays the role of Dr Frank-N- Furter in the The Rocky Horror, which will be on stage at Monte Casino.  Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Brendan Van Rhyn poses for a picture during an interview for The Citizen newspaper, 20 January 2014. He plays the role of Dr Frank-N- Furter in the The Rocky Horror, which will be on stage at Monte Casino. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Over six years later, his dream has come true. “I’ve found something new in him. He’s fierce. One minute he’s calm and the next crazy!” Van Rhyn throws his arms in the air to emphasise his point.

As Frank, Van Rhyn has to be on his toes – and not just because he’s in stilettos most of the time. The audience is encouraged to heckle and take part in the show. The theatres even offer special participation (dare we say, partici…pation) packs for the crowd, complete with confetti, newspapers and everything else a Rocky die-hard would need.

“Rocky is about escapism. If you’re a married man who has always wanted to dress up in heels, this is your chance to do it! Playing Frank is very much an in-born thing. I think a lot of Brendan comes through in Frank; the charm, not the nastiness,” he says with another roaring laugh.

“This time around I’m also allowed to say what I want. I can give as good as I get.”

Brendan Van Rhyn poses for a picture during an interview for The Citizen newspaper, 20 January 2014.  He plays the role of Dr Frank-N- Furter in the The Rocky Horror, which will be on stage at Monte Casino.  Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Brendan Van Rhyn poses for a picture  with his parrot Monkey during an interview for The Citizen newspaper, 20 January 2014. He plays the role of Dr Frank-N- Furter in the The Rocky Horror, which will be on stage at Monte Casino. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Juxtaposed against this crazy character is a man who refuses to use Internet banking and only recently started his own Facebook account. Cathy, of course, has had her own page for quite a while.

“I’m an old-fashioned boy. I like debits and credits,” he says, mimicking writing in a ledger.

“I still go to the bank, and say ‘Hi, hello, how are you’. I have old school values.”

He laughs, causing his pet parrot – named Monkey, in true contradictory style – to raise his feathers and give us a dirty look.

The Rocky Horrror Show will be performing at Pieter Toerien’s theatre at Montecasino from 24 Jan – 30 March 2014