Craig McLachlan leaves Rocky Horror Show amid harassment claims

The producers of the stage musical The Rocky Horror Show have announced that Craig McLachlan will leave the current production of the show following allegations that he sexually harassed other cast members during the show’s 2014 tour.

The Gordon Frost Organisation (GFO) said it was shocked to learn of the allegations against Craig McLachlan while he was involved in the Rocky Horror Show in 2014.

“We take these allegations very seriously, and have always endeavoured to prioritise a safe working environment.” the company said in a media release issued this afternoon.

The producers said that they had come to a mutual agreement with McLachlan that it would not be appropriate for him to continue in his leading role. The Gordon Frost Organisation said it would be conducting a full investigation and would cooperate fully with authorities.

While there’s no word on who will replace McLachlan in the shows he’s repetitively stared in over the last 24 years, the producers have said they are committed to delivering the shows scheduled performances. The production is currently playing in Adelaide and is scheduled to head to Melbourne and Perth.

McLachlan has denied reports published in Fairfax Media and at the ABC which quote actors Erika Heynatz, Christie Whelan Browne and Angela Scundi. McLachlan told Fairfax Media that there claims were “baseless”.

“They seem to be simple inventions, perhaps made for financial reasons, perhaps to gain notoriety,” he was quoted as writing in a response.

“These allegations are ALL made up.” McLachlan said.

Victorian police have confirmed they are investigating a number of incidents, but would not be making any further comment.

The Gordon Frost Organisation also commented on an earlier statement which appeared to indicate that they were considering legal action for defamation against the actors who raised the concerns.

“In order to clarify media reports, we wish to state that we were not aware of any details of these allegations until they were published in the media today.” the organisation said.

“We received correspondence from a law firm shortly before Christmas however this contained no details of the claims or the claimants. The response from our lawyers was based on this lack of information and was not in any way directed at the women who have come forward and made these allegations.”

The Gordon Frost Organisation said they had no official records indicating that complaints had been made against McLachlan either formally or informally.

“We can also confirm that our records show the claimants at no time made any complaint – formal or informal – to the company manager or executive producer of The Rocky Horror Show in 2014. Furthermore no one at GFO recalls any verbal discussion of this nature. It would be distressing to us if anyone within our company was dismissive of sexual assault allegations, and this will form a part of our internal investigation.

“GFO has rigorous rules, guidelines, and procedures in place regarding all work-related issues, including for grievances and OHS generally, and requires all staff, casts and contractors to follow such. GFO places the safety and well-being of its staff, casts, contractors and members of the public as its highest priority at all times, and we trust that our longevity in this industry shows this.”

The accusations have also drawn a response from the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the union that represents actors.

Zoe Angus, the director of the union’s Equity section said they had already begunb rolling out a new collaborative approach to address sexual harassment, assault and bullying in the live theatre sector.

“A new collaborative approach proposed by MEAA and adopted by state theatre companies shortly before Christmas could pave the way for more effective policies to deal with sexual harassment, assault and bullying across the entire live theatre sector” Angus said.

“Early this year, a national forum will be held involving MEAA, major state theatre companies, and freelance artists to drive real change and lasting solutions in live theatre.”

Angus said a goal of the forum will be an agreed set of policies and procedures to deal with allegations of sexual harassment, assault and bullying.

The collaboration with theatre companies follows a survey by MEAA of 1124 people working in theatre which found 40% had experienced sexual harassment and 14% had been sexually assaulted.

But 53% of victims and said they had never reported sexual harassment, criminal misconduct or bullying for reasons ranging from worries about professional repercussions, a belief that they did not think anything could be done, fears that reporting would worsen the situation, or hope that it would resolve itself.

THe survey also found that 47% of those who did make a report felt the situation was not handled well and in some cases, it even got worse.

“Fear of reprisals or that making a complaint will damage their careers has in the past discouraged victims from formally complaining about sexual harassment or bullying,” Angus said.

“In other cases, performers have not been made aware of how to make a complaint, or complaints have resulted in no action.

“The state theatre companies have acknowledged these problems and we welcome their acceptance of our offer to work collaboratively towards solutions.

“The outcomes of this work will potentially be a template for the entire live theatre sector, including independent and musical theatre.”

Industry body Live Performance Australia has also indicated it will work closely with the MEAA to address the issue.

OIP Staff

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