The Boy From Oz, a musical biography of Peter Allen, the singer/songwriter from Australia, is chipper, glitzy, vastly pleasurable and fairly satisfying, even if at times it feels more like a revue. A gloss with peppy musical numbers. Narrated by Peter Allen, he begins with his childhood in Tenterfield, New South Wales. Even as a wee lad Allen had an infectious sense of showmanship, tapdancing and singing in the pubs to cheers and acclaim. We see his abusive, liquor-swilling father and protective, steadfastly supportive mother, and understand pretty quickly his drive and motivation to leave home and see his name in lights.
Allen's career takes hold early as he lands a job performing with Chris Bell on the Australian version of American Bandstand. While working the circuit, the two cross paths with Judy Garland (Janelle Lutz) whose husband is touring through Hong Kong. Allen and Garland strike up a friendship. Before you can say, “There's no place like home,” Bell and Allen follow Garland to New York, where they play warm up for her concerts. Allen meets Judy's daughter Liza Minelli (Sarah Elizabeth Smith) and the two quickly fall in love, and get married. Allen has made it clear (to the audience) that he's gay, but seems to sincerely believe they can make a go of it. Allen is involved with Garland and Minelli through the ground-breaking Liza with a Z, and tragic death of Judy that precipitated the historic Stonewall Riots of June 28th, 1969.
After his amicable divorce from Liza Minelli (7 years after they wed) Allen takes interest in one-night stand Greg Connell. Connell is dubious but Allen with his fizzy, insistent charm is not easily discouraged. As his popularity increases and his gigs get more prestigious, he's faced with with the question of personal transparency. He barely hesitates, opting to fly his colors flagrantly in a time when this was not in vogue. And that is the secret of The Boy From Oz's appeal. There's just something about Peter Allen, and Alex Ross, the man who plays him, with that effusive delight and radiance, utterly unabashed and unapologetic. His enjoyment and energy are so palpable, you can't resist the brimming exhilaration. I must add here that Lutz and Smith enriched Oz immeasurably, evoking Garland and Minelli with confidence and eclat'.
Uptown Players presents The Boy From Oz (Lyrics by Peter Allen, Book by Martin Sherman and Nick Enright) playing July 25th-August 10th, 2014. Kalita Humphreys Theater., 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, Texas 75219. 214-219-2718. uptownplayers.org