The Boy From Oz, a musical biography of pop star Peter Allen, premieres March 5 at Her Majesty's Theatre in Sydney.
The show traces his life from when the Australian boy starts singing in local New South Wales pubs at age 11, through his years as a pop star in the U.S. and even as star of his own Broadway concert revues and one short-lived musical.
Allen was discovered by Judy Garland after he became a national TV star at 16. At 23 he married Garland's daughter, Liza Minelli. Before he was 40, Allen had won an Oscar for Best Song. His 1988 Broadway musical, Legs Diamond, ran 64 performances.
He wrote and co-wrote more than 200 songs including the Academy Award-winning Arthur's Theme. Other songs are I Go to Rio, I Honestly Love You, Tenterfield Saddlerand I Still Call Australia Home. I Still Call Australia Home has become the country's unofficial national anthem. Stars who have sung his works include Frank Sinatra, Olivia Newton-John, Bette Midler, Ann-Margaret and Harry Connick Jr.
The Boy From Oz features many characters from Peter's life including The Rockettes, the Bandstand family, Judy Garland and Liza Minelli. Co-producers are Australian-based film and television producer Ben Gannon and London and Broadway producer Robert Fox. Director is Australian Gale Edwards, the only woman and the first Australian to direct the Royal Shakespeare Company, and also the director of the recent revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar in London's West End. The writer is Academy Award-nominated Nick Enright. Costume designer is Roger Kirk, Tony-winner for The King and I on Broadway. Set Designer is Peter J. Davison who works at New York's Metropolitan Opera and London's Covent Garden and will design Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical Whistle Down the Wind in London. The choreographer, Anthony van Laast, has won international acclaim for his work on Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Direct from the successful Crazy For You as Bobby Child, Todd McKenney will play Peter Allen. Chrissie Amphlett, acclaimed for her performance in Blood Brothers, will play Judy Garland and Angela Toohey, who played in the stage production of Cabaret, will play Liza. Marion Woolnough, Peter Allen's mother will be played by Australian stage legend Jill Perryman.
The Boy From Oz opens in Sydney, and is set to go on to Melbourne, Brisbane and then to Canada, where Allen had a great following. The producers then hope to take the show to Broadway.
Venue: Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney. Opens March 5. Phone charge 61 2 9266 4020. Group Bookings: 61 2 9266 4015.
-- By Peter Kemp