Choreographer Joey McKneely will provide the fancy footwork in the upcoming workshop of Australia's hit musical, The Boy from Oz, set to take place April 8-May 5 in Manhattan.
Hugh Jackman, who starred in the London Oklahoma! but isn't in the new Broadway mounting of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, will star in the Oz workshop as the Allen character. As previously reported, the producers are hoping to bring the show to Broadway in 2002-03 if all goes well.
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.
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.
Edwards, who recently staged a Broadway Jesus Christ Superstar revival and an RSC Don Carlos at BAM, is no longer directing. That job has gone to Philip McKinley, best known for his work with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and on the Off-Broadway shows Zombie Prom and Thwak, according to an Oz spokesperson in New York City.
A first draft has been completed for the American version, and sources say the show has quite a lot of musical numbers and ends with Allen's signature song, "I Go to Rio." The original cast recording of the Australian production included the 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.