THE BOY FROM OZ @ Crown Theatre gets 9/10

The Boy from Oz
@ Crown Theatre
Saturday, January 23, 2021


There are cities that never close down, but the very places renowned for delivering the world’s greatest theatrical performances are taking an extended interval for reasons that need no explanation. In the meantime, the velvet curtains have been flung wide in Western Australia as the first state in the world to resume professional live theatre. This time with more exuberance than ever, with the extra ingredient of international theatre performers who have returned to their WA home. Perth theatre producers Platinum Entertainment known for recent hits We Will Rock You, Cats, and Jesus Christ Superstar have taken up residence at Crown Theatre to bring the best of Western Australia’s talent to the stage.

Peter Allen, The Boy From Oz, was brought to life by 27-year-old Ethan Jones. His performance was not one of the boy next door, but of a powerhouse entertainer with charisma and skill to elevate him to any of the world’s stages. Jones sang, played the piano, danced and high-kicked his way through the show, and his authentic personality instantly won the crowd reflecting Allen’s famed savoir-faire. The confidence demonstrated by Jones from the outset of his performance had the audience entranced beyond the final curtain. He honoured the life of one of Australia’s greatest entertainers whilst embodying the character as though the show was written about him. As a child in rural New South Wales, Allen had the natural ability to draw a crowd with his showmanship and talent.

Young Allen was played by Lucky Farrell, who has the spark of a true star. There were some incredibly tender moments as the story seamlessly swept back and forth between a live Peter Allen show experience and a reflective memoir of his life. Jones lead a powerhouse cast delivering an overall flawless performance.

As with many of Allen’s original shows, Jones was accompanied by a trio of Angels, backing vocalists Melissa Erpen, Sophie Foster and Carrie Pereira. Headliners in their own right, the ladies layered heavenly harmonies and several solo opportunities saw the divine creatures melting the room with their talent and commanding presence.

Very few people are more qualified to bring Allen’s story to life than Director and Choreographer Drew Anthony. As a young man Anthony was inspired by Allen’s performances and later had the opportunity to share the stage with him. Anthony was able to impart the brilliance, warmth and generosity of Allen’s character into young Jones, who was born a year after Allen’s death. Anthony’s expertise and mastery of dance was evident in the elegantly fluid scene transitions and overall production vision.

Associate Choreographer, Para Isidro, brought together a team of dancers whose youthful energy lit up the stage and supported Jones’ energy with perfection. A particular highlight is Isidro’s Fosse inspired choreography during the track Sure Thing Baby performed by the dynamic Elethea Sartorelli as Liza Minnelli. The leading ladies of Allen’s life, including Minnelli (Sartorelli), Judy Garland (Lucy Williamson) and Allen’s mother, Marion Woolnough (Casey Edwards) were powerful counterparts in the retelling of this story. Williamson and Sartorelli’s portrayals of the famous mother and daughter were astounding as they channelled the intensity and poignant emotion of their journeys. A notable moment was the appearance of a children’s choir that sung Allen’s most famous anthem, I Still Call Australia Home.

Platinum Entertainment have been increasingly raising the bar in the local theatre space and this production takes their reputation to the next level. International theatre may not be around for a while, but the quality of this show suggests that Perth will not go without quality professional theatre in the near future. The Boy from Oz features local talent but deserves a place on the world stage, endorsed by audiences offering a standing ovation for every performance.

The Boy From Oz offers the boldly striking contrast of joy and fame, the pain of great loss, and the way important people mark our lives forever. Peter Allen’s courage and determination was the ticket to his great success and his legacy lives on in this breathtaking tribute.