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The Boy from Oz is a jukebox musical based on the life of singer and songwriter Peter Allen, featuring songs written by him. The original book is by Nick Enright, with a revised book by Martin Sherman. Premiering in Australia in 1998 starring Todd McKenney, the musical opened in a revised version on Broadway in 2003 with Hugh Jackman in the title role.

The Boy from Oz
The Boy from Oz Original Broadway Poster.jpg
Original Broadway poster
MusicPeter Allen
LyricsPeter Allen
BookNick Enright (original)
Martin Sherman
Productions1998 Sydney
2003 Broadway
2006 Australian arena tour
2013 Lima, Perú
2018 Melbourne

PlotEdit

Act IEdit

The musical begins with Australian performer Peter Allen recalling his life story, coming to terms with who he was ("The Lives of Me"). Afterwards, we go back to Allen's childhood in Tenterfield, Australia, where a young boy named Peter Woolnough is performing in local bars for money ("When I Get My Name in Lights"). Peter grows up and joins with Chris Bell to become the Allen Brothers, and they perform in Australian Bandstand ("Love Crazy"). After great success in Australia, the Allen Brothers perform in a Hong Kong Hilton hotel to Chinese businessmen. One evening, another person is watching them from the bar: the legendary Judy Garland. Peter convinces Judy to perform with them ("All I Wanted Was the Dream"), and Judy takes Peter to be the opening act in her concert in New York ("Only an Older Woman").

While in New York, Peter is introduced to Judy's daughter, Liza, and they fall in love ("Best That You Can Do"). There are rumors of Peter's homosexuality, and Judy warns Liza of this ("Don't Wish Too Hard"). Liza gives no attention to her warning and marries Peter ("Come Save Me").

Peter makes some mistakes, and at one of his all night parties Liza walks in on him ("Continental American"), further fueling her suspicions that he is gay. Liza is working hard to get her career going ("She Loves to Hear the Music"), in contrast to Peter's excessive lifestyle. Judy dies, and Peter honors her ("Quiet Please, There's a Lady on Stage"). Liza's world comes crashing down as a result of her mother's death.

Liza confronts Peter on his alleged homosexuality, and their marriage ends ("I'd Rather Leave While I'm in Love"). Peter returns to Australia but realizes that he is not who people thought he was ("Not the Boy Next Door").

Act IIEdit

Back in the US, Peter has gone solo and comes to terms with his bisexuality ("Bi-Coastal"). He meets the hardworking fashion model Gregory Connell. Greg does not want to be a part of Peter's life in show business, but he falls in love with Peter ("If You Were Wondering"). They soon get discovered by music producer Dee Anthony, and he gets them a gig at the Copacabana in New York ("Sure Thing Baby"). Peter's career takes off, and he wins an Oscar for Arthur's Theme, in addition to recording songs that were covered by artists Olivia Newton-John and Frank Sinatra. Peter gives his best performance in the Radio City Music Hall with The Rockettes ("Everything Old is New Again"), and is surprised to know his mother is also in love.

Greg becomes stricken with AIDS, and even though Peter tries to help him carry on, he succumbs to his illness ("Love Don't Need a Reason"). Peter also becomes sick with AIDS, but Greg's spirit urges him to carry on ("I Honestly Love You"). Liza offers her support to Peter, and they both realize they had successful lives and careers without each other ("You and Me").

Peter returns to Australia for a triumphant performance ("I Still Call Australia Home") and tries to tell his mother about his illness, but he can't find a way to tell her ("Don't Cry Out Loud").

Peter succumbs to his disease, and he reflects on his life realizing he has no regrets as he passes away ("Once Before I Go"), but not before going out in style with a farewell performance ("I Go to Rio").[1]

Production historyEdit

Original Australian productionEdit

The Boy from Oz had its world premiere, directed by Gale Edwards, at Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney, Sydney, Australia, on 5 March 1998 and toured Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, playing to over 1.2 million theatre patrons. It ran for a total 766 performances over two years.[2][3] The production starred Todd McKenney as Peter Allen and Divinyls frontwoman Chrissy Amphlett as Judy Garland, Angela Toohey as Liza Minnelli and introduced Mathew Waters as Young Peter Allen.

BroadwayEdit

The Boy from Oz began previews on Broadway at the Imperial Theatre on 16 September 2003 and opened on 16 October 2003. It closed on 12 September 2004, at the end of Hugh Jackman's contract. It was adapted for the American audience by playwright Martin Sherman, who removed some of the Australian terms (such as "jackaroo") and expanded the role of U.S. characters Garland and Minnelli. The musical played 32 previews and 365 performances. Directed by Philip William McKinley, with choreography by Joey McKneely, it starred Jackman as Peter Allen, Isabel Keating as Judy Garland, Stephanie J. Block as Liza Minnelli, Beth Fowler as Marion Woolnough, Jarrod Emick as Peter's lover Greg Connell, and John Hill as Mark Herron (Judy's husband). Jackman won the 2004 Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, and Keating won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical. The show also received nominations for four other Tony Awards, including Best Musical.[4]

Ben Brantley of The New York Times panned the show, calling it an "indisputably bogus show", but praised Jackman's performance.[5] The musical recouped its investment of $8.25 million.[6]

Australian arena tourEdit

The Boy from Oz returned to Australia from 3 August 2006 to 10 September 2006 in a new production especially designed for the arena stage (audiences of over 10,000 people), called Boy from Oz Arena Spectacular. Directed by Kenny Ortega, Hugh Jackman reprised his New York role as Peter Allen. He was joined by Australian actresses Chrissy Amphlett and Angela Toohey, reprising their roles as Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli. Shardyn Fahey-Leigh played the role of Young Peter Allen with Dylan Speedy. Rarmian Newton and Joshua Waiss Gates, both of whom later starred in Billy Elliot the Musical, were understudies in the Australian production. Peter's mother, Marion, was played by Colleen Hewett.[7][8] The show had a support cast of 40 singer-dancers and a 25-piece orchestra.[9]

The show also featured the vocals of Australian girls' high school choirs from Penrhos College[citation needed] when in Perth, and, while in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, it featured the vocals of 100 girls from the Australian Girls Choir.[8]

Melbourne revivalsEdit

In 2010 Todd McKenney returned to the title role with The Production Company in a version of the show that climaxed with a Peter Allen recording projected on the stage. In 2018 to celebrate The Boy from Oz turning 20, The Production Company staged a new production with anachronistic elements such as Aboriginal and rainbow flags. Rohan Browne starred as Peter Allen, with Caroline O’Connor as Judy Garland and Matthew Manahan as Greg Connell.

International productionsEdit

In Peru, the musical was released in May 2013, starring Marco Zunino as Allen,[10] Érika Villalobos appeared as Liza Minnelli and Elena Romero as Judy Garland. It was the first Spanish language adaptation of this musical.[11]

Song list (Broadway version)Edit

All songs written by Peter Allen except as noted

Act IEdit

Song title Sung by Composers Source
The Lives of Me Peter Peter Allen, 1971 self-titled album
When I Get My Name in Lights Boy and Ensemble Legs Diamond
When I Get My Name in Lights (Reprise) Peter Legs Diamond
Love Crazy Chris Bell, Peter and Ensemble Allen, Adrienne Anderson It Is Time for Peter Allen, live album
Waltzing Matilda (in Mandarin) Peter and Chris Banjo Patterson
All I Wanted Was the Dream Judy Garland Legs Diamond
Only an Older Woman Judy, Peter, Chris
and Mark Herron
Legs Diamond
Best That You Can Do Peter and Liza Minelli Allen, Burt Bacharach,
Carole Bayer Sager,
Christopher Cross
Arthur
Don’t Wish Too Hard Judy Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) I Could Have Been a Sailor
Come Save Me Liza and Peter Legs Diamond (cut)
Continental American Peter and Ensemble Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) Continental American
She Loves To Hear The Music Liza and Ensemble Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) Taught by Experts
Quiet Please, There’s A Lady On Stage Peter and Judy Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) Taught by Experts
I’d Rather Leave While I’m in Love Liza and Peter Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) I Could Have Been a Sailor
Not the Boy Next Door Peter and Marion Woolnough Allen (music),
Dean Pitchford (lyrics)
Not the Boy Next Door

Act IIEdit

Song title Sung by Composers Source
Bi-Coastal Peter and Trio Allen, David Foster, Tom Keane Bi-Coastal
If You Were Wondering Peter and Greg Connell I Could Have Been a Sailor
Sure Thing Baby Dee Anthony, Greg, Peter,
Trio and Male Ensemble
Legs Diamond
Everything Old is New Again Peter and The Rockettes Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) Continental American
Everything Old is New Again (Reprise) Marion, Dee and Greg Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) Continental American
Love Don’t Need a Reason Peter and Greg Allen, Michael Callen,
Marsha Malamet
Making Every Moment Count
I Honestly Love You Greg Allen, Jeff Barry Continental American
You and Me Liza and Peter Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) Not the Boy Next Door
I Still Call Australia Home Peter and Ensemble Bi-Coastal
Don't Cry Out Loud Marion Allen (music), Sager (lyrics) I Could Have Been a Sailor
Once Before I Go Peter Not the Boy Next Door
I Go To Rio Peter and Company Allen, Anderson Taught by Experts
Original Australian Cast Album track list
  1. Continental American
  2. When I Get My Name In Lights
  3. Pretty Keen Teen
  4. All I Wanted Was the Dream
  5. Only an Older Woman
  6. Don't Wish Too Hard
  7. Sure Thing Baby
  8. Quiet Please, There's a Lady on Stage
  9. I'd Rather Leave While I'm In Love
  10. (I've Been) Taught by Experts
  11. Not the Boy Next Door
  12. (When) Everything Old is New Again
  13. (Arthur's Theme) Best That You Can Do
  14. Love Don't Need a Reason
  15. She Loves to Hear the Music
  16. I Honestly Love You
  17. I Still Call Australia Home
  18. Don't Cry Out Loud
  19. Tenterfield Saddler
  20. I Go to Rio
  21. The Lives of Me
  22. Love Crazy
  23. Come Save Me
  24. Bi-Coastal
  25. If You Were Wondering
  26. You and Me
  27. Once Before I Go

ReceptionEdit

In his review of the Broadway production for The New York Times, Ben Brantley wrote, "His limbs twirling like the blades of a windmill, Mr. Jackman channels the energy that was Allen with a rejuvenating life force all his own. And you don’t feel — as you so often do with such interpretations — that your memories of the prototype have been blurred. This is a performance that, against the odds, holds on to its integrity." However Brantley went on to write: "...this musical settles for a staleness and a hollowness that even Mr. Jackman's blazing presence can't disguise."[5]

In his review for Variety of the Broadway production, Charles Isherwood praised Jackman but panned the show: "Jackman is giving a vital and engaging performance in this pitifully flimsy musical almost in spite of the material he’s been handed. It’s a sad waste of an exciting talent."[12]

David Rooney, writing in Variety about the Australian arena tour, said, "When he first performed the role on Broadway in 2003, Hugh Jackman’s charisma, vitality and breezy confidence onstage far outshone the narrative or emotional scope of the by-the-numbers biomusical of singer-songwriter Peter Allen. The scales have been tipped even further toward the performer in this pumped-up reconfiguration of the show, playing state capitals in venues of 10,000 seats or more. It’s as much a concert platform for a returning local boy made good in Hollywood as it is a life story of Peter Allen. And that’s no bad thing."[13]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Original Australian productionEdit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2001 Helpmann Awards Best Musical Won
Best New Australian Work Nick Enright Nominated
Best Direction of a Musical Gale Edwards Won
Best Choreography in a Musical Anthony Van Laast Nominated
Best Male Actor in a Musical Todd McKenney Won
Best Female Actor in a Musical Chrissie Amphlett Nominated
Best Musical Direction Max Lambert Won
Best Sound Design Wyn Milsom Nominated

The original Australian production was also received six Melbourne Green Room Awards for 1999, including Outstanding Contribution by a Music Theatre Management.[14] It was also nominated for the Green Room Award for Best New Australian Play.[15]

Original Broadway productionEdit

Year Award Ceremony Category Nominee Result
2004 Tony Award Best Musical Nominated
Best Book of a Musical Martin Sherman and Nick Enright Nominated
Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical Hugh Jackman Won
Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical Beth Fowler Nominated
Isabel Keating Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Hugh Jackman Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Mitchel David Federan Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Isabel Keating Won
Theatre World Award Mitchel David Federan Won
Hugh Jackman Won
Isabel Keating Won

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The Boy from Oz: Synopsis". Stacy's Musical Village. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  2. ^ Boy From Oz Opens Mar. 5 in Sydney Playbill, March 5, 1998
  3. ^ "Peter Allen Musical Bio, The Boy From Oz, Bows March 5 in Sydney" Playbill, January 27, 1998
  4. ^ "The Boy from Oz". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Brantley, Ben (October 17, 2003). "Theater Review; Flash Of 70's Sequins". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  6. ^ Green, Jesse (September 5, 2004). "Theater: Debriefing; Eight Days a Week". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "The Boy From Oz". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. September 4, 2006. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Rooney, David (August 6, 2006). "Abroad: The Boy from Oz". Variety. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  9. ^ Hernandez, Ernio (February 13, 2006). "Hugh Jackman The Boy From Oz Tour Gets New Director, Cast and Dates for Oz Return". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 26, 2006. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  10. ^ "Musical de Broadway "The Boy From Oz" será adaptado en Lima". El Comercio. December 17, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  11. ^ "Marco Zunino recibe consejos de actor Hugh Jackman". entretenimiento.terra.com.pe.[dead link]
  12. ^ Isherwood, Charles. The Boy From Oz Variety, October 16, 2003
  13. ^ Rooney, David (6 August 2006). "The Boy from Oz". Variety. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  14. ^ "1999 Music Theatre". Green Room Awards. Archived from the original on November 29, 2003. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  15. ^ "1999 Drama". Green Room Awards. Archived from the original on November 26, 2003. Retrieved 20 March 2016.

External linksEdit