In apparent refutation of a June 5 New York Post report that Hugh Jackman may have bowed out completely of a projected Broadway run of the hit Australian musical, The Boy from Oz, the production's spokesperson released a press announcement confirming Jackman's involvement.
The Post said the star had signed on for a film package with a multi-million dollar payday, forcing him to delay his involvement in Oz for "at least a year." The daily also suggested that Jackman would be pressured by his agents to adandon the Broadway project.
"Producers Ben Gannon and Robert Fox confirmed today that Hugh Jackman will star in the new musical, The Boy From Oz, which will open on Broadway in September 2003," read the press release, sent out via the wires late on June 5.
The show, which had a workshop in NYC this past spring, had previously been announced for a Broadway debut for spring 2003, following an out-of-town tryout. The announcement did not say whether a pre-Broadway stop was still in the cards, or whether Jackman's film schedule required that the musical be pushed back several months.
Jackman had the lead role of entertainer Peter Allen in the workshop. Britisher Ruthie Henshall (Putting It Together, Chicago) was Liza Minnelli, Allen's one-time wife. Isabel Keating was Liza's mother, Judy Garland. Patti Allison played Marion Woolnough and Mitchel David Federan was the Boy. Also in the cast were Leslie Alexander, Patti Allison, Todd Anderson, Christopher Freeman, Colleen Hawks, Adam Karsten, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Shannon Lewis (Fosse), Matt Loehr, Mark Manley, Brian J. Marcum, Michael Mulheren (Kiss Me, Kate), Ben Sheaffer, Jeff Skowron, Lynn Sterling and Kellyanne Wilson.
The book is by Martin Sherman. Philip Wm. McKinley was the director. Choreographer Joey McKneely provided the fancy footwork. Louis St. Louis was the musical director.
The Australian production of The Boy from Oz ran two years and starred Todd McKenney as Allen. Variety called that production "Australia's first homegrown large-scale tuner in a decade."
Back in March 1998, Ben Gannon and Robert Fox, the producers of Peter Allen, the Boy from Oz, were making plans to bring the show to Broadway that spring in a $4.5 million production directed by Gale Edwards.
The show is a musical biography of the late entertainer who was a protege of Judy Garland (and who was briefly married to Liza Minnelli). It received strongly positive reviews when it opened March 5, 1998 at Her Majesty's Theatre Sydney. Nick Enright penned the musical's original book, though since fall 2001, Martin Sherman, of Bent and A Madhouse in Goa note, has been the project's librettist, according to a spokesperson at the William Morris Agency.
McKneely first came to attention with his work in the long running Broadway revue Smokey Joe's Cafe. He went on to choreograph Cy Coleman's The Life, and Twelfth Night at Lincoln Center Theater. He was nominated for Tony Awards for the first two.
Sources say the show has many musical numbers and ends with Allen's signature song, "I Go to Rio." The original cast recording of the Australian production included the following songs:
"When I Get My Name In Lights"
"Pretty Keen Teen"
"All I Wanted Was the Dream"
"Only An Older Woman"
"Don't Wish too Hard"
"Sure Thing Baby"
"Quiet Please, There's A Lady On Stage"
"I'd Rather Leave While I'm In Love"
"Taught By Experts"
"Not the Boy Next Door"
"Everything Old Is New Again"
"Best That You Can Do"
"Love Don't Need A Reason"
"She Loves To Hear The Music"
"I Honestly Love You"
"I Still Call Australia Home"
"Don't Cry Out Loud"
"I Go To Rio"
Albert Poland serves as general manager for the project.