Dream theatre

INSPIRED: Rob Mills hopes his latest role in the UK production of Puttin On The Ritz leads to work on London’s West End.HAVING fought for, and successfully achieved, musical credibility, Rob Mills has his sights set on conquering London’s acclaimed West End theatre scene.

It’s a declaration a decadeago that would have had readers choking on their morning cornflakes in disbelief at its audacity.

This is man who was oncefamous for being the “cheeky bad boy”ofthe inaugural Australian Idol and for having a flingwith Paris Hilton.

In recent years Mills, who turned 35 on Thursday, has matured and channelled his singing, dancing and acting talent into becominga star of Australian musical theatre.

He’s appeared in Grease, Hair, Wicked, Ghost The Musical and in July he will play the lead role in Jesus Christ Superstar. Mills has also began preparing for perhapshis most important role yet,the UK production of Puttin On The Ritz.

Mills will be the only Australian performerin the song and dance production that features predominately stars of the West End and is produced by Englishman David King.

Puttin On The Ritz features the music ofIrving Berlin, Cole Porter and George Gershwin and takes the audience to the golden era of Hollywood where swing music and Fred Astaire loomed large.

Securing a role in Puttin On The Ritz, as well as a series of meetings with West End theatre companies, has convinced Mills to follow his dreams and potentially move to London in the near future.

“With touring with this company there might be some work for me in the UK at the end of the year or early next year,” Mills says.“I’m thinking about making the move. It’s all thoughts in my brain at the moment, but maybe. I don’t see why not.

Rob MillsRob Mills Is Surprisingly Good, full self-deprecating humour.

“I’ve tried to be a sponge and maybe it was trying to shakeoff the Idol tag and being a rapscallionboy from the burbs has made me want to work harder and prove people wrong and prove it to myself,” he says.

WILD DAYS: Rob Mills during his brief dalliance with Paris Hilton in 2003.

Mills’ acting career is also flourishing. Earlier this year he debuted on TV soap opera Neighbours as school teacher Finn Kelly. It’s a role Mills has been able to relate to as he regularly conducts workshops in schools, talking to studentsabout theatre.

“I did drama all through high school, but I didn’t do year 12 drama because I was too scared of what other people would think of me,” he says.

“If I could go back and tell that kid, little Rob, ‘everyone is going to have an opinion about you, so just do what you want to do’ and I would have definitely pursued drama through year 12, knowing what I know now.”

Luckily, says Mills, Australia has progressedsince his teenage years and it’s more socially acceptable forboys to study the dramatic arts.

“You learn so many great lessons through acting games and you learn emotional techniques and empathy and things that will make you a better person,” he says.“I know I’ve become a more well-rounded person after doing a lot more acting.”

Puttin On The Ritz comes to Wests New Lambton on September 24.

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