The Boy From Oz has given hit shows to both Todd McKenney and Hugh Jackman. It seems to connect even with a generation which does not remember Peter Allen and, for those who loved him, it gives a chance to re-connect with his song-book, and reminisce about his iconic life.
I did see Peter Allen perform once, in Canada, after the flight from Hades from Delhi to Toronto - a passenger with a grave-yard cough in front of me, an unhappy infant behind me, and a person listening to a Walkman at anti-social volume levels alongside me "I'm part of Peter Allen's band" she said. Despite all that, and even in my jet lagged state, I had to admit that Peter Allen's camp charisma captivated the Canadians, and I wondered how Ignatians would manage to re-create that atmosphere. They did well. It was a big ask. As Nigel Munro-Wallis puts it
"You need strong singers who can dance. You need good dancers who can sing. And you need a fair number of really talented people to pull off some pretty major roles like Judy Garland, Liza Minelli and, of course, Peter Allen himself."
One of the pleasures of going to Brisbane musical theatre these days is to see what excellent talent is available. Catarina Hebbard (director) has assembled a strong cast. Angel McIntosh (a Harvest Rain regular) was a very convincing Judy Garland, Jessica Papst inhabits the part of a young Lisa Minelli, capturing her look, if not quite her voice. Marie Hughes is spell-binding as Peter's mother, and Liam Wigney sings and dances his heart out as the young Peter. Shaun McCallum is great as Greg, Peter's long time partner.
This show stands or falls on the part of Peter Allen. Dale Pengelly has the pedigree working with Graeme Murphy as a dancer, and with an international musical theatre career. He certainly gave the part his all, singing and dancing his heart out, and engaging the audience with Allen's campy double-entendres and studied boyishness.
A highlight is when he dances with "the Rockettes" everyone in this sequence is superb, and the costumes were great which is not always the case in this show. The choreography was excellent throughout, as was the music from the on-stage band. Considering that this was a community-based production everyone deserves praise for a strong, energy-packed colourful show, which the audience clearly loved.
Brisbane Season Dates
Friday 26th April - 7:30pm Saturday 27th April - 1:30pm and 7:30pm
Wednesday 1st May - 7:30pm
Thursday 2nd May - 7:30pm
Friday 3rd May 7:30pm
Saturday 4th May - 1:30pm and 7:30pm