Real Life

Country boy lands role of a lifetime!

It was time to become the King
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Rob Mallett, 32, shares his story with Take 5:

A big gathering of friends sat around our living room making music.

“Get up there, Roberty-Bob!” my mum, Mary, egged me on.

It was 1996, and aged five, I’d recently started Irish dance lessons with my two older sisters.

Timidly, I showed off some of the steps I’d learnt as the friends cheered.

We lived on an apple orchard in the Huon Valley, Tas, which had been in my dad’s family for generations.

Mum had left her own family’s farm in Ireland after she met my father, Robert, while he was travelling around Europe.

She vowed to never forget the culture of her homeland.

The farm had been in our family for generations. (Image: supplied)

On nights like this one, friends and family would gather for a jam session.

Many would bring instruments – tin whistles, Celtic drums, piano accordions – and bash out a rowdy Irish symphony.

Music was as much a part of my childhood as the country air I breathed.

When I turned 14, my parents gave me a guitar, and I began to suspect life would take me far beyond the bush.

After school, I got into the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) which led to a career in musical theatre.

I had a ball performing in shows across Australia, like Disney’s Aladdin and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

During this period, I met a beautiful actress named Chloé Zuel and in 2019 we married.

Chloé and I married in 2019. (Image: supplied)

After COVID, I found it hard to get back in the groove.

Then, in April this year, I was sent an audition notice for a new musical about Elvis Presley set to tour Australia.

We grew up with Irish and classical music, I thought. I know nothing about Elvis.

I figured they’d give the role to some Elvis fan and resolved to audition for smaller parts.

Chloé disagreed and encouraged me to go for it.

Amazingly, a few weeks later I learnt that out of 700 applicants, I’d got the lead.

I had three months to learn how to sing and dance like the King!

Making my knees and hips move like Elvis in the ’50s was tricky.

I feel like a baby giraffe, I thought.

Learning to sing and dance like Elvis was a challenge. (Image: supplied)

Many late nights were spent singing along to his songs, glass of whisky in hand, trying to capture Presley’s iconic tone.

“You were amazing,” Chloé told me after opening night.

But I thought she was amazing for being there, as by then she was 39 weeks pregnant with our son.

Rocking out as Elvis was unreal, and even more wonderful was holding our boy for the first time, just two days later!

My son was born two days after opening night! (Image: supplied)

In the show, Elvis sings Can’t help falling in love… to his new baby, and now I know exactly how he feels.

Becoming a dad and Elvis at the same time has been a unique challenge, but I’m loving every moment.

Elvis: A Musical Revolution, plays at Athenaeum Theatre One, Melbourne, from September 30.

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