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McLachlan told to apologise for grabbing actor by her face, court told

The Age logo The Age 6 days ago Adam Cooper

Video provided by Nine News

Craig McLachlan was told to apologise to an actor for forcefully grabbing her face during a performance of a Melbourne stage show, a court has heard.

One of the four actors who have accused Mr McLachlan of indecent assault went to the production's resident director one night in 2014 reporting that the Logie-winner had grabbed her face while the pair were in a scene together.

Craig McLachlan wearing a suit and tie: Craig McLachlan and his partner Vanessa Scammell arrive at court on Tuesday. © AAP Craig McLachlan and his partner Vanessa Scammell arrive at court on Tuesday. Leah Howard, the show's resident director, said the actor told her: "He grabbed my face hard out there ... You need to do something. He's angry."

Mr McLachlan, 54, has pleaded not guilty to 16 charges, comprising counts of indecent assault, common assault and one of attempted assault, related to a stage production in Melbourne in 2014. He is contesting the charges in Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Ms Howard said she went to Mr McLachlan after the actor complained and told him he needed to apologise.

The actor was "pretty upset" when she made the report, Ms Howard said. When the resident director went to Mr McLachlan he appeared frustrated because his microphone had malfunctioned and he had a problem with his costume.

"I said, 'You scared her, you should talk to her and you should apologise'," Ms Howard told the court on Tuesday.

"He said, 'I will do that', and he was sorry at the frustration of the situation. It was very short and definite because I just wanted him to apologise." Ms Howard said the following day, the actor said Mr McLachlan had apologised.

"She said, 'Your mate McLachlan just apologised to me', and I said, 'That's good'," Ms Howard said.

"She said, 'I didn't want him to apologise', and I said, 'Why? He needs to if you felt the way you did'."

Ms Howard said the episode left her feeling "a bit confused".

Ms Howard couldn't explain why the complaint and the problems Mr McLachlan had with his microphone and costume weren't in an internal briefing compiled after the show.

Mr McLachlan is accused of inappropriately touching the same actor while they were in a scene together, but when he was concealed from the audience.

Craig McLachlan wearing a suit and tie: Australian actor Craig McLachlan arrives at the Melbourne Magistrates Court. © AAP Australian actor Craig McLachlan arrives at the Melbourne Magistrates Court. He is also accused of kissing another actor on stage when a scene didn't require the contact, and of running his hand up the leg of a third woman while she was performing and he was hidden from the audience's view.

He allegedly kissed the fourth woman while they were off stage, without her consent.

The four women cannot be named.

Ms Howard said Mr McLachlan had a licence to ad lib during the production, both with the script and choreography, but that the show's producers would need to seek approval from "international creatives" if there were to be modifications to the show.

She said she didn't believe the producers would need to seek permission to include a kiss by Mr McLachlan's character.

"No I don't believe so," she said.

"[It] is a very free show in its genre and storyline."

Ms Howard said she never saw anything inappropriate happen on or backstage, and that the interactions she witnessed between the cast were "gleeful and consensual".

But the allegations against Mr McLachlan had since divided Australia's theatrical community.

"It's hard when things like this happen," she said.

"I support everyone in this situation, I just want everyone to be OK."

The hearing continues.

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