The Boy from OZ
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.
Original Australian Production
The Boy from Oz had its world premiere, directed by Gale Edwards, at Capitol Theatre, 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. The production starred showman 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.
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.
Ben Brantley of The New York Times panned the show, calling it an “indisputably bogus show”, but praised Jackman’s performance. The musical recouped its investment of $8.25 million.
Australian Arena Tour
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. The show had a support cast of 40 singer-dancers and a 25-piece orchestra.
The show also featured the vocals of Australian girls’ high school choirs from Penrhos College when in Perth, and, while in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, it featured the vocals of 100 girls from the Australian Girls Choir.
To celebrate The Boy from Oz turning 20, The Production Company will stage a new production as a part of their 2018 season. Rohan Browne stars as Peter Allen, and Caroline O’Connor returns to The Production Company for the role of Judy Garland. Matthew Manahan will play Greg Connell.
In Peru, the musical was released in May 2013, starring Marco Zunino as Allen, Érika Villalobos appeared as Liza Minnelli and Elena Romero as Judy Garland. It was the first Spanish language adaptation of this musical.
Run Details Broadway
Imperial Theatre, (10/16/2003 – 9/12/2004)
First Preview: Sep 16, 2003
Opening Date: Oct 16, 2003
Closing Date: Sep 12, 2004
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”).
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”).
All songs written by Peter Allen except as noted
Original Australian Cast Album track list
- Continental American
- When I Get My Name In Lights
- Pretty Keen Teen
- All I Wanted Was the Dream
- Only an Older Woman
- Don’t Wish Too Hard
- Sure Thing Baby
- Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage
- I’d Rather Leave While I’m In Love
- (I’ve Been) Taught by Experts
- Not the Boy Next Door
- (When) Everything Old is New Again
- (Arthur’s Theme) Best That You Can Do
- Love Don’t Need a Reason
- She Loves to Hear the Music
- I Honestly Love You
- I Still Call Australia Home
- Don’t Cry Out Loud
- Tenterfield Saddler
- I Go to Rio
- The Lives of Me
- Love Crazy
- Come Save Me
- If You Were Wondering
- You and Me
- Once Before I Go
Hugh Jackman – Broadway Debut – Peter Allen
Stephanie J. Block – Liza Minnelli
Jarrod Emick – Greg Connell
Mitchel David Federan – Boy / Young Peter
Beth Fowler – Marion Woolnough
Isabel Keating – Judy Garland
Michael Mulheren – Dick Woolnough / Dee Anthony
Leslie Alexander – Ensemble
Brad Anderson – Ensemble
Kelly Crandall – Ensemble
Naleah Dey – Ensemble
Nicolas Dromard – Ensemble
Timothy A. Fitz-gerald – Chris Bell / Ensemble
Christopher Freeman – Ensemble
Tyler Hanes – Ensemble
Colleen Hawks – Member of Trio / Ensemble
John Hill – Mark Herron / Ensemble
Pamela Jordan – Ensemble
Tari Kelly – Member of Trio / Ensemble
Stephanie Kurtzuba – Member of Trio / Ensemble
Heather Laws – Ensemble
Brian J. Marcum – Ensemble
Jennifer Savelli – Ensemble
Matthew Stocke – Ensemble
Swings: Todd Anderson and Jessica Hartman
Standby: Kevin Spirtas (Peter Allen)
Understudies: Leslie Alexander (Marion Woolnough), Brad Anderson (Greg Connell), John Hill (Greg Connell, Peter Allen), Tari Kelly (Liza Minnelli), Stephanie Kurtzuba (Judy Garland), Heather Laws (Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli), Kevin Spirtas (Greg Connell), Matthew Stocke (Dee Anthony, Dick Woolnough) and P. J. Verhoest (Boy)
The Broadway production received favorable reviews. In his review 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.”
Variety, writing 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.”
Awards and Nominations
Original Australian Production
|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. It was also nominated for the Green Room Award for Best New Australian Play.
Original Broadway Production
|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|
|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|
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- Green, Jesse (September 5, 2004). “Theater: Debriefing; Eight Days a Week”. The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- “The Boy From Oz”. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. September 4, 2006. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- Rooney, David (August 6, 2006). “Abroad: The Boy from Oz”. Variety. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- 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.
- “Musical de Broadway “The Boy From Oz” será adaptado en Lima”. El Comercio. December 17, 2011. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- “Marco Zunino recibe consejos de actor Hugh Jackman”. entretenimiento.terra.com.pe.
- Rooney, David (6 August 2006). “The Boy from Oz”. Variety. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
- “1999 Music Theatre”. Green Room Awards. Archived from the original on November 29, 2003. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- “1999 Drama”. Green Room Awards. Archived from the original on November 26, 2003. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
- April 2016 Production AFD Theatre, Arlington MA
- 2010 Production of The Boy From Oz Sydney
- The Lives of Me – The Boy from Oz
- Miranda Musical Society
- CLOC Musical Theatre in May 2008
- Tamworth Musical Society November 2008
- Review of CLOC Musical Theatre’s Production on Theatrepeople
- All About Hugh Jackman, Theatre Credits