Rock of Ages perfomer Grant O’Neil’s first musical theatre experience was taking the title role in a school production of The Sentimental Bloke. His performing background is primarily in choral singing, performing with choral groups such as the WASO Chorus, Georgian Singers, Lux et Veritas and the UWA Choral Society. In recent years he has broadened his performing horizons to  theatre, and has performed in local productions including lead roles in Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore, Candide and A Christmas Carol, as well as performing in the chorus for Magic Flute and Carmen.

Outside theatre, he works in IT and enjoys military history. As a member of the WA Great War Living History Association, he dresses in the uniforms and equipment of the Australian soldiers of the First World War to educate the community about that time.

We asked Grant to take time out of his tremendously busy schedule for five minutes to answer five most important questions:


  1. What are your 5 favourite songs from the 1980s? Could I have an extra zero please? I love music and there are so many songs from all time periods I love. I am possibly the only DJ in Perth who could play music from every time period from the early 1900s to the present!
  • Kenny Nolan, “Love’s Grown Deep” – For me this is a song of the ’80s, as although it was released in 1977, I heard it for the first time in 1985. It has very special meaning for my wife and me, as it describes perfectly how our relationship grew.
  • Pink Floyd, “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” (album version preceded by “The Happiest Days of Our Lives” – I was still at high school when the album was released, and this became a bit of an anthem for us.
  • Redgum, “I Was Only 19 (A Walk in the Light Green)” – When this song was released, I was aged 19 and in the army, and most of my NCOs were Vietnam Veterans, so it made a very deep impression.
  • Michael Jackson, “Thriller” – The first time I saw the video I was simply stunned, there had been nothing like it before.
  • Midnight Oil, “The Dead Heart” – There is no better song to play loud and sing along to in the car while driving through spinifex country!
  1. Which 5 characters from musicals would you invite over for dinner?
  • Dick Van Dyke as Caractacus Potts, from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I was about four when I first saw the movie, and my favourite toy was a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car.
  • Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, from My Fair Lady.
  • Topol as Tevye, from Fiddler on the Roof.
  • Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean, from Les Miserables (bonus there, we’d also get PT Barnum! And my wife would love meeting him!).
  • Anthony Warlow as The Opera Ghost, from Phantom of the Opera (another bonus, Dr Zhivago).
  1. What are your 5 favourite things about performing?
  • The satisfaction of creating something as a team with the cast and crew.
  • Learning from other performers – the community theatre scene in Perth is full of so many wonderfully talented people.
  • Doing something different to my everyday routine.
  • Learning new things (in this respect, the choreography in Rock of Ages has been a real challenge, I have never before been in a show that has stretched my abilities as much as this one!).
  • Applause from an appreciative audience after a good performance – I have never experienced anything as intoxicating or addictive!
  1. What are 5 things you’ve learnt in your life?
  • Don’t compare and compete with other people. The only person you have to be better than is who you used to be.
  • The only way to guarantee you can’t fail is to never try anything.
  • You won’t worry so much about what other people think of you if you realise how infrequently they think of you.
  • Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional!
  • If it is important to you, you’ll find a way. If it’s not important, you’ll find an excuse. 
  1. What are your 5 tips for people who want to do musical theatre?
  • If you haven’t performed before, don’t worry, everyone has to start somewhere.
  • If you’re self-conscious about performing on stage, there are many other ways to get involved and feel the satisfaction of being part of creating a show.
  • If you feel overwhelmed at first, keep at it and eventually you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve finally got it.
  • You get out of it only as much as you put into it, so the extra effort to learn lines, harmonies and choreography pay off.
  • Step out of your comfort zone and just give it a try.

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