Nick Enright’s jukebox musical of famous Australian singer/songwriter Peter Allen, The Boy from Oz mirrors the man himself: it is glitzy, colourful, funny, sentimental, BIG and chock full of talent. Productions of the musical need to get these elements right, and The Met have outdone themselves with their version ticking every box – some of them more than once.
The biggest thing that has to be spot on is the casting of Allen; enter Adelaide’s David Salter. If talent was a sin, then Salter would be the Devil. Physically he is nothing like Peter Allen, however, matches him in movement, cheekiness, and personality, whilst bettering him vocally. Salter gives a magnificent performance of a dream role.
As young Peter Allen (on alternate performances), Ned Baulderstone is the other spectacular knockout of this production, in many ways equalling Salter in the talent stakes.
Jenny Bowen makes a wonderfully Aussie mum, Marion Woolnough (Peter’s mother) endearing herself to the audience with every appearance; Daniel Fleming gives a sensitive portrayal of Peter’s lover, Greg Connell, and delivers a truly beautiful version of I Honestly Love You. As Judy Garland, Bronwen James gives a competent performance, but there seems to be an elusive ‘something’ missing in her characterisation and/or vocals that causes her to just miss the mark. Selena Britz however, is stunning as Liza Minnelli, hitting the mark and making it a bullseye again and again.
The ensemble work hard and well, but there are a couple of characterisations from some of them that director Leonie Osborn has let slip over the line causing them to be over the top (just); and this reviewer would liked to have seen more Rockettes in When Everything Old Is New Again. That being said, dancers Ali Walsh and Gemma Freeman perform the number well, along with the other great Carmel Vistoli dance routines. Vistoli must be congratulated in particular for her authentic 70s disco, the Bob Fosse style choreography in the Minnelli number; and, presumably after watching many, many Peter Allen clips, giving Salter accurate Allen moves.
This production has many great things going for it, not the least of which is the fantastic sounding orchestra musically directed by Jillian Gulliver.
With highlights including a rousing rendition of I Still Call Australia Home, the incredibly energetic I Go to Rio, a piano that has a life of its own, and Salter’s entire performance, The Met’s The Boy From Oz is immensely entertaining. I honestly loved it and trust me, you will cry out loud if you miss it.
Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Venue: The Arts Theatre 53 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 8 – 17 May 2014
Duration: 2 hours 30 mins (including interval)
Tickets: $26.00 – $32.00
Bookings: Book online through The Met website (or phone Carolyn on 8264 3225); or book through BASS online phone ( or phone 131 246)