On the Couch with Ellis Dolan

RHS-Ellis-Dolan-photo-by-Pierre-ToussaintWho is Ellis Dolan?
Ellis Dolan is an actor/writer who is terrible at writing about himself. He’s toured with such shows as The Rocky Horror Show and School of Rock, living out his childhood dream of being a rock-star. One time, he asked a friend to describe him with one word and the friend chose ‘kind’. He finds it difficult to answer a question without making jokes or being sarcastic, to the detriment of conversation at times, but always means well. He just needs to do one more draft of his novel and then he’ll show it to people, he swears.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
If I wasn’t performing, I’d probably be in academia in some sort, perhaps being a lecturer at university and spending my time dissecting films and books with my peers. That, or a pirate. Yar.

Who inspires you and why?
I have a tattoo of Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics on my wrist to continuously inspire me, because no one could capture the nature of humanity quite like Sondheim could. I find Lin-Manuel Miranda constantly inspiring for creating beautiful diverse works. Millicent Sarre is a very dear friend and brilliant cabaret artist who uses her work to empower women and promote social change, and the musician Lonelyspeck – another dear friend – is quite simply the best at what they do and is constantly creating brilliant works of art. I’m aware that there’s a bias in listing a few of my friends here, but I’m just really lucky to have such inspiring people in my life.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I consider myself to be a dedicated ally for causes of social change and endeavour to use my platform and voice to promote these necessary and important societal changes as best I can. I also believe that art and artists can change the world and have powerful and impactful effects on people – my life has been transformed by things I’ve seen on stage and I can only hope that my work does the same for someone else.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland – home of some of the best musicians in the world – and Japan, to see both the beautiful modern cityscapes and rich historical countryside.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
I’m usually the one coming to town! Whenever I’m living in Melbourne and people visit me, I always make sure we get Shujinko Ramen on Russell Street, because the food is always a delicious treat.

What are you currently reading?
On my bedside table currently is Surrender by Bono, and Axiom’s End by Lindsay Ellis. I’ve also been reading Eiichiro Oda’s ongoing series, One Piece, for years and won’t be stopping anytime soon.

What are you currently listening to?
It’s usually some combination of composer Yoko Shimomura and Gorillaz. Bo Burnham was my most listened to artist in 2022, and I listen to the soundtrack of Sunday in the Park with George whenever I get on a plane to calm my nerves (Original Broadway cast, of course, I’m not a monster).

Happiness is?
To me, happiness involves dear friends, good conversation, and beautiful music. It’s stepping out on stage and sharing art with the world. It’s appreciating the good things, and overcoming the bad. It’s a hot bowl of Shujinko Ramen. It’s listening to Finishing the Hat for the fiftieth time that week. It’s laughing until four in the morning with those that you love.

What does the future hold for you?
Ideally, more social progression and systemic change to better the lives of everyone, not just the upper classes. If I can spend my future performing in amazing shows like The Rocky Horror Show, more time with my loved ones, and more time creating art that inspires people, then I’ll be happy. That, or becoming a pirate.

Ellis stars as Eddie & Dr Scott in the 50th Anniversary production of The Rocky Horror Show – which is currently playing the Adelaide Festival Centre until 13 May; before playing the Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne from 18 May; Crown Theatre, Perth from 6 August; and Canberra Theatre Centre from 29 September 2023. For more information, visit: www.rockyhorror.com.au for details.

Image: Ellis Dolan – photo by Pierre Toussaint