Back in March 1998, Ben Gannon and Robert Fox, the producers of Australia's hit musical, 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.
If you thought those Oz plans were lost somewhere over the rainbow, think again, mates. The producers are putting together an April private workshop of the tuner, with Broadway eyed for 2002-03 if all goes well. Hugh Jackman, who starred in the London Oklahoma! but won't be in the upcoming Broadway mounting, will appear in the Oz workshop. (Oddly enough, the Sydney Morning Herald reported in July 2000 that Jackman had turned down an opportunity to audition for Oz because he thought the timing was wrong.) A spokesperson at Nancy Seltzer Associates, which represents Jackman, told Playbill On-Line (Feb. 8), "He hopes to be involved" with the show."
The Australian production ran two years and starred Todd McKenney as Allen. Variety had called that production, "Australia's first homegrown large-scale tuner in a decade."
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 Barnum & Bailey Circus and on the Off-Broadway shows Zombie Prom and Thwak, according to an Oz spokesperson at the Boneau/Bryan-Brown press office. 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.