Ethan Jones delivers a knock-out performance in ‘The Boy From Oz’

The Boy From Oz | Crown Theatre | Until 7th Feb | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Stepping on the the stage to portray endlessly energetic entertainer Peter Allen must be a daunting prospect. Especially when it’s been a signature role for both Hugh Jackman and Todd McKenney, but from the moment he arrived on a chaise lounge carried by shirtless backing dancers – Ethan Jones owned the night and captivated the audience.

This new locally produced version of the popular musical is a faultless world-class undertaking. Filled by an incredibly talented cast and backed up by perfect direction and choreography.

The show tells the story of Australian composer Peter Allen, frequently breaking the fourth wall, and using some creative story telling techniques to bounce between the singers journey to international stardom, and his early life as Peter Woolnough in rural New South Wales. A young by who played the piano in his local pub to entertain the locals.

We trace his journey from his breakthrough as one half of the cabaret duo The Allen Brothers, to being discovered by screen legend Judy Garland, his marriage to her daughter Liza Minelli, coming out and finding happiness with long term partner Greg Connell, and the tragedy of Connell’s death, and eventually Allen’s as well, to HIV.   The trip is filled with the many well known songs that Allen wrote during his long a successful career.

The cast is exceptional, Ethan Jones delivers a knock-out performance as Allen, delivering the songs, chorus line high kicks and dramatic punch that the role demands. Australia’s new leading man of musical theatre has arrived with an energetic and captivating performance that show off his musical theatre skills.

Perfectly playing the role of screen and stage legend Judy Garland is Lucy Williamson, The actor, who has an impressive string of musical theatre credits from around the globe, embodies the part. So much that I got home I had a burning desire to just play old Judy Garland records.

Elethea Sartorelli nails Liza Minelli – it’s all in the voice, and one of the show’s most poignant numbers is when she announces she’s leaving Allen and sings I’d Rather Leave While I’m in Love. The show allows each of the supporting cast members to have a big musical number. Casey Edwards who plays Allen’s mother Marion Woolnough has her big moment performing Don’t Cry Out Loud, bringing tears to the eyes of audience members, while Peter Cumins who plays boyfriend Greg emotionally sings I Honesty Love You.

There are many highlights in this show, the most dramatic is Quiet Please, There’s a Lady on Stage which pays tribute to Judy Garland, plus there’s the patriotic rise of I Still Call Australia Home, the beauty of Tenterfield Sadler, and the celebration of I Go To Rio.  

Several young performers play the role of the young Peter Allen. On opening night it was Lucky Farrell who was stealing the audiences hearts. It’s no small role, spending a substantial amount of time on stage he sang and danced up a storm.     

Under the direction of Drew Anthony this show features some amazing choreography, brilliant vocal performances, and brings to life the wonder inspirational life of Peter Allen, It’s top notch.

Perth audiences are famous for their reluctance to give standing ovations, on opening night the cast of The Boy From Oz deservedly received two standing ovations at the end of the show.

Catch The Boy From Oz at the Crown Theatre until 7th February.  

Graeme Watson

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