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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
As told to Katie Cunningham

Three things with Myf Warhurst: ‘It lived in some wealthy person’s mansion for a hundred years’

Myf Warhurst
The Rocky Horror Picture Show starring Myf Warhurst and Jason Donovan opens at the Theatre Royal Sydney on 14 February. Photograph: Cameron Grayson

Myf Warhurst is about to add something different to her resume. From next week, the beloved Spicks and Specks regular will appear in a new Australian stage production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Warhurst is playing the Narrator, while former Neighbours star Jason Donovan is stepping into the role of Frank-N-Furter.

“I’ve never done an actual musical before,” Warhurst says. “We did sing and dance on Spicks and Specks, but not with actual professional dancers. So I do have impostor syndrome, but I’m enjoying it immensely. I never thought I’d be having such a new and daunting experience at nearly 50.”

Music has always been a big part of Warhurst’s life, and she considers her most useful object the baby grand piano in her living room – because it has a knack for getting the party started whenever guests are over. Here, the longtime ABC presenter tells us why she delights in that centuries-old instrument, as well as the stories behind other important personal belongings.

What I’d save from my house in a fire

My dad is a painter, among many other things, and we grew up with his art. I’ve got a couple of his paintings that would absolutely be the first things I’d save in a fire.

He does these incredible landscapes with all the colours of the earth and of the countryside. But he also does lots of beautiful birds, and I’ve got one he painted that has two beautiful red cockatoos. I’d never been much of a bird lover until the last few years – in lockdown, in Melbourne, I really started to get into watching birds in my back yard because I was so bored. Dad’s always said that birds are life’s witnesses … they look down upon us and watch us as we watch them.

‘Birds are life’s witnesses’: the painting of red cockatoos gifted to her by her dad.
‘Birds are life’s witnesses’: the painting of red cockatoos by Warhurst’s father. Photograph: Supplied

I’ve got another [painting] that is very special as well, of my three brothers and I [as] little kids. He gave us one each a couple of Christmases ago – I would absolutely put in the boot of the car if there was a bushfire about to come through. I’ve just moved to a bushfire-prone area in Melbourne, so I’ve actually had to think about this!

My most useful object

My piano. It’s been there for many great parties – for my guests to play, not me. And it’s amazing how many people can actually play the piano really well!

‘It’s been there for many great parties – for my guests to play, not me’: Warhurst’s baby grand piano.
‘It’s been there for many great parties – for my guests to play, not me’: Warhurst’s baby grand piano. Photograph: Myf Warhurst/Supplied

It’s the most incredible piano. I bought it about 12 years ago in a shop in Melbourne but it’s from 1868, so it’s incredibly old. Apparently it lived in some wealthy person’s mansion for a hundred years and no one ever touched it. So that’s why it’s in such a beautiful condition – although I must admit it’s had a bit of wear and tear at my house since. And no one wanted to buy it from the shop because it’s not concert pitch – to play with an orchestra, a piano needs to be concert pitch. Quite frankly, I’m never gonna play with an orchestra, so it doesn’t matter.

The item I most regret losing

This one disappeared in a move at some point – I’ve lived in so many houses over the years that stuff just goes missing.

For a while there, I went through a phase of collecting retro technology – like old TVs and stereo systems, that kind of thing. It was the thing I searched for in op-shops before they got too picked through. I loved those old televisions that were shaped like a ball and all that plastic moulded 60s and 70s futuristic stuff, because I feel like there was a real optimism about the future and the possibility of technology then.

And along the way I lost one of those Weltron record players that look like a spaceship. It probably didn’t play my records all that well, but it was the best conversation starter! I don’t know where it is; some lucky ex-housemate has got it. I imagine it’s worth a fortune and somebody’s got it. And good luck to them.

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