Actor Christie Whelan Browne will head to mediation in a bid to settle her $2m lawsuit with the company behind the production of the Rocky Horror Show, a court has heard.
Ms Whelan Browne launched proceedings in the Federal Court earlier this year claiming Oldfield Entertainment had failed to provide a safe work environment during the 2014 production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show alongside actor Craig McLachlan.
In a Statement of Claim filed with the court, Ms Whelan Browne says she on multiple occasions went to staff involved in the production to complain about Mr McLachlan’s alleged conduct and that she was unsupported.
Many of the claims, which include allegations Mr McLachlan made unwanted advances onstage, were made public during a criminal trial and a defamation trial.
Mr McLachlan has continuously denied the allegations and in 2020 he was acquitted of criminal charges.
He launched defamation proceedings but he abandoned the case mid-trial in May last year before key witnesses gave evidence.
The Federal Court heard on Tuesday that Oldfield had filed an interlocutory application seeking to strike out parts of Ms Whelan Brown’s statement of claim.
The court heard Oldfield is yet to file a defence
“We go into mediation with no idea frankly as to what the respondent’s position is … whether they deny the factual allegations or what their position is generally,” Ms Whelan Browne’s barrister Kate Eastman SC told the court on Tuesday.
According to court documents, Ms Browne claimed in one instance in May 2014, she went to the show’s director, John Frost, after she alleged Mr McLachlan had been aggressive towards her and confided that she was “scared of him”.
Mr Frost is alleged to have told a crying Ms Browne that “we can’t have that”, and that she could call him, but allegedly failed to take any further steps to reprimand Mr McLachlan or give Ms Browne his number.
If the matter does proceed to trial, Oldfield is expected to call seven witnesses, including Mr Frost, as well as members of the production team.
Oldfield’s barrister Bronwyn Byrnes told the court they were still considering their position given they were not involved in the criminal proceedings or the defamation lawsuit.
Ms Byrnes told the court they had only recently obtained a transcript of the defamation proceedings and were still waiting on a transcript of the criminal trial.
The two parties will now enter into mediation next Thursday in a bid to settle the suit before it goes to trial at some point next year.
According to court documents, she has asked the court to award her $1.5m in damages and a further $500,000 in aggravated damages.
In a statement published to social media earlier this year, the musical theatre star said Oldfield’s behaviour towards her following the reports constituted sex discrimination and unlawful discrimination.
“I filed an application in the Federal Court of Australia against Oldfield... alleging that it unlawfully discriminated against me under the Sex Discrimination Act by subjecting me to sex discrimination, repeated sexual harassment by a fellow cast member and to victimisation when I spoke out against him,” she said in the statement.
“My claim is about my experiences when I was employed as a lead actor in the Rocky Horror Show in 2014 and then Oldfield’s response to my complaints from 2017 to date.”