Kristian Lavercombe: Next Generation Riff Raff
Kristian Lavercombe is currently strutting the boards as Riff Raff in the 40th Anniversary Rocky Horror Show Tour, Youth Arts Online finds out how Kristian became a part of the most notorious musical on the planet.
When did you discover your talent and enjoyment of acting?
I sang and acted throughout high school. I went to a school called Nayland College in Nelson, New Zealand. It was a school that encouraged its pupils to be individual and held a high importance on art and theatre. It was my teachers at this school that encouraged me to take further training. I think it was always inevitable that I would have had a career in something creative.
What opportunities arose whilst attending the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Art?
When I left the National Academy it was the tutors that I had met while studying that ended up employing me. If I hadn’t studied I’m not sure I would have met the right people.
After graduating did you go straight in to professional performances?
I pretty much started working straight out of training at The Court Theatre in New Zealand. In many ways this was like an intensive acting apprenticeship for me, where I put into practice all the things I’d been concentrating on while studying. The people I worked with at that time were amazing and set the highest possible benchmark for me to aspire to.
You are currently starring as Riff Raff in the 40th Anniversary Tour of The Rocky Horror Picture Show alongside the creator (and original Riff Raff) Richard O’Brien. How did you bag an audition, what was the process and how did you feel when you were offered the role?
A few years ago I had the opportunity to perform along side Richard O’Brien for the New Zealand section of a tour I was doing. I was playing Riff Raff and he was playing the Narrator. During the curtain call Richard O’Brien used to come on stage with his electric guitar and we would sing The Time Warp together.
The man is inspirational. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have created something that the world loves so much. He has been to see this production a couple of times, but he is currently living in New Zealand.
Kristian Performing ‘The Time Warp’ as Riff Raff
The show has rave reviews, what has been the greatest criticism you have ever received (from any show)?
Every single person who goes to see a show will have a different opinion on what they saw. Unless you are confident that a review will not affect your performance then you shouldn’t read them.
Restoration comedies were written a few hundred years ago and it is safe to say that I didn’t have a full understanding of the genre. When I got my report back it stated that ‘This role was beyond Kristian mentally, physically and emotionally.” I thought I’d never work again. Ironically the person who wrote that about me ended up being one of my main employers during my first few years in the industry.
Alongside acting you work as a director, producer and designer. What projects have you been working on in these roles?
I always have side projects on the go and these projects could involve me putting on a number of different hats. I’m currently working on a one-man-glam-rock musical called Damn Fluid.
It’s about an ex-glam rock star who has been so badly behaved that the rest of his band have left him. With this project I’m attempting to take on lots of different roles: writer, designer, performer and even costume maker. I like a challenge, and it helps me stretch myself creatively.
Your voice has an exceptional range, what training have you received and do you take any measures to ‘look after’ your voice?
Like many singers I get paranoid about my voice. In many ways I’m happy to have a level of paranoia as I see it as a safety mechanism. I drink lots of water, spend a lot of time warming up and I also steam my voice if it is feeling tired. I have had only a handful of lessons since I finished acting school, although I would absolutely love to get more if I found the right teacher.
If you could perform any character (film/tv/stage) who would it be and how would you portray them?
My dream roll would be playing Edward Scissorhands in the stage version – unfortunately this doesn’t exist. I would love to do another Oscar Wilde, or Shakespeare. When it comes to musicals I would happily play Boq in Wicked, Leaf Coney Bear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, or Dicken in Secret Garden. A would love to do some more television and film if the opportunity came up.
What advice would you give to young aspiring actors?
The most important aspect of having a long career in this industry is what you do when you are not working. Get a sideline or business that gives you a supplementary income. If you find a sideline that you enjoy and can make money from it will give you the freedom to remain in the industry while others give up performing in return for a more stable income.
To keep up with the exciting world of Kristian on and off stage follow him on Twitter.