The Road to Oz Leads to the Imperial; Musical to Open Oct. 16, 2003

News   The Road to Oz Leads to the Imperial; Musical to Open Oct. 16, 2003 Broadway didn't waste any time putting the soon-to-be-vacant Imperial Theatre to use.

Broadway didn't waste any time putting the soon-to-be-vacant Imperial Theatre to use.

The hit Australian musical, The Boy from Oz, starring Hugh Jackman, will open at the Imperial on Oct. 16, 2003, after previews from Sept. 16. The valued musical house will lose its longtime tenant, Les Miz, on March 15, 2003.

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.

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. Jackman is the only confirmed cast member for the Broadway bow.

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."

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.

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:
"Continental American"
"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"
"Tenterfield Saddler"
"I Go To Rio"

Albert Poland serves as general manager for the project.

—By Robert Simonson