People go to the theatre for various reasons, some to escape, others to be inspired, all to be entertained. You can be guaranteed that The Production Company will tick all of those boxes with The Boy From Oz.
The Boy From Oz is the life story of the late George Woolnough’s grandson Peter Allen. George was immortalised by Peter in Tenterfield Saddler.
The Boy from Oz is now 20 years old and so is The Production Company. This new production does a superb job of connecting Allen’s pioneering past with the current attitudes of society. They have done this by emphasising Allen’s sexuality in the 70s aligned with todays Gay Pride achievements. The Production Company has tastefully increased the emphasis on Gay Pride with subtle rainbow set designs.
The other statement was for the Aboriginal people with Rohan Browne’s Allen character co-existing the Aboriginal flag with the Australian flag during ‘I Still Call Australia Home’.
The changes in the show are subtle but bring a relevance to today, especially in this time of such a mean-spirited Australian federal government.
The Boy From Oz is a great story of achievement. Essentially it follows the story of a boy from Tenterfield, NSW all the way between the moon and New York City. The message is believe in yourself and you can achieve anything.
Rohan Browne stars as Peter Allen. It is a role so few have played before. He delivers a believable Peter Allen, nailing the mannerisms. With his credentials in musical theatre he also easily delivers the spirit of the songs even if he is a better singer than Peter.
Broadway star Caroline O’Connor returns to The Production Company to play superstar Judy Garland, who became Peter’s mother-on-law. The story keeps the Garland character alive and encouraging, even after her death in Act 1. The Garland/Allen cross-over in real-time was short, but for theatre, the inspiration lived on.
Loren Hunter is Liza Minnelli, Judy’s daughter, Peter’s wife then ex-wife and muse to his career.
If all of the above does not really excite you, then just go for the songs. Peter Allen was a pioneer in Australian music. He was achieving international success alongside Little River Band, Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton-John soon after The Seekers and The Easybeats opened that door.
The songlist is a greatest hits. Grab a Peter Allen greatest hits and treat yourself to many of the songs here.
Although I was initially surprised by the additional subtext, I am glad The Production Company included new messages for 2018 here. After all, with media groups like The Herald Sun and 3AW constantly trying to drag us back to the 70s, its inspiring to see a theatre production pay respect to the now.