Rob Mills: Australia’s golden boy of theatre

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Rob Mills: Australia’s golden boy of theatre

Rob Mills has lived what seems like a plethora of lives for a 34-year-old. First entering Australians’ television sets on Australian Idol in 2003, Mills has since been on Celebrity Apprentice, read the weather on morning television, guest starred on neighbours and been an ambassador for suicide prevention organisation R U OK?.

With each new role, it’s been a welcome challenge. As Mills confesses he’s willing to say yes to just about any opportunity: “If you put the work in and jump in the deep end you’ll learn how to swim”.

His biggest test, and the turning point of his career, came with the chance to audition for popular theatre production Wicked; which involved a rigorous training process from a singing and acting coach.

“I found that really hard to do but I wanted it so, so badly,” he says. “If you practise enough anything is possible.”

Through sheer determination, Mills landed the coveted lead role of Fiyero in the Stephen Schwartz production and reviewers unanimously remarked that the former reality star was actually “surprisingly good”.

In light of the reviews, in 2015 Mills created his own theatre show taking inspiration from the critics’ remarks. Rob Mills is “Surprisingly Good” was Mills’ creative response to the critics. “As soon as you take ownership of something it loses its power,” he adds.

Since then, Rob Mills is longer acclaimed as surprisingly good, and instead is heralded as Australia’s golden boy of theatre.

puttin on the ritz 2 if there's room

First beginning his musical theatre career in 2008 with Wicked, Mills has starred in Legally Blonde, Grease, Hairspray and Ghost the Musical. His newest role sees him bring life to the classics of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin in the David King production of Puttin’ on the Ritz.

“I grew up listening to those old school musical theatre movies; Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Fred Astaire,” Mills confesses. “My grandma and I would always watch those together back in the day, so I have fond memories of sitting around watching those old movies.”

With the likes of the Sound of Music and Mary Poppins playing a big role in Mills’ childhood, he’s been blessed in having an upbringing that brings awareness to the power of music and live performances.

“The thing that gets me when you’re watching a film, people think it’s the text that creates the movie, but it’s actually the music that sparks that emotion within you. There’s something really special about story-time through song and dance,” he says.

“People want that escape, and that’s what we offer as singers and dancers – an escape from the everyday world. You don’t get that from a movie you’ve downloaded off the Internet or streamed on Netflix. Sure it gives you something, but there’s nothing better than live entertainment.”

From his early days performing in a band, heading to karaoke with his “classic karaoke queen” mother, and his stint on Australian Idol, music has played a constant role in his life.

His love of music and his upbringing meant this new role in Puttin’ on the Ritz was something the theatre star “jumped at”.

Before Mills heads to Bendigo and Geelong for Puttin’ on the Ritz, he joins the Production Company for the first time in Jesus Christ Superstar in Melbourne from July 29 – August 6. All that’s left for you is to take Mills’ sage advice and experience it. Perhaps escape the real world a little while you’re there.

When & Where: Ulumbarra Theatre, Bendigo – September 5; The Palms at Crown, Melbourne – September 7 & Costa Hall, Geelong – September 9.

Written by Amanda Sherring