The Original production of Gale Edward’s musical The Boy From Oz made its World Premiere in 1998. This year is the 20th anniversary of the closing of Ben Gannon’s and Robert Fox’s record-breaking homegrown production based on the life Peter Allen who died 28 years ago.
The purpose of this virtual reunion of the Original Company of the production, dancing to I Go To Rio, is a celebration of the Australian Arts Community, an empowering trip down memory lane featuring appearances by over 103 members of the Original Cast, Crew and Creatives. A reminder that life in the Arts is a long, wonderful, sometimes heartbreaking journey.
In the words of Nick Enright, who wrote the book, “. . . you will have a wonderful life. There’ll be good bits and bad bits, but you will make the most of every moment. You will tell your life like a story and it’ll be a real adventure…” The adventure the industry is currently in, is navigating a nearly complete industry shutdown, a chapter akin to a ‘bad bit’.
Fundamentally, The Boy from Oz, was conceived as a valentine to Peter Allen – one of the greatest entertainers that Australia has produced. His death in 1992 at the age of 48 prompted an outpouring of grief throughout the world, such was his irrepressible wit and electrifying presence as a singer, dancer and songwriter.
The catchy, flamboyant song I Go To Rio encapsulated Allen’s sheer exuberance and sense of fun yet his illustrious songbook is full of biographical gems, notably Tenterfield Saddler, I Honestly Love You, Quiet Please There’s a Lady on Stage and Don’t Cry Out Loud. Plus, the Australian anthem I Still Call Australia Home.
The moment The Boy From Oz arrived on stage with the sensational Todd McKenney in his career defining role as Peter Allen, it struck an immediate chord with Australian audiences, for here was a wish-fulfillment story of underlying tragedy and struggle, but one that brought the entertainer’s survival instincts, indomitable spirit and charisma to the fore.
The musical was a huge hit. Audiences adored the stage celebration just as Allen had loved those closest to him and his devoted fans. Globally the industry is navigating unprecedented times. Just like Peter Allen, The Boy From Oz always had a great sense of generosity, empathy, humanity and humour. And much hard work!
New York based, Australian Performer and Editor, Ben McHugh, and Sydney based Music Producer, Sean Peter, are acknowledged for their huge contribution in creating this virtual video.
Enjoy the video, celebrate the industry, encourage support for the arts, and donate to the Actors Benevolent Fund of NSW. For more information, visit: www.actorsbenevolentfund.org.au for details.
Image: The Boy From Oz (supplied)