Todd returns to role that made him a star

Todd McKenney
Todd McKenney at the Production Company Launch. Image by Jim Lee

Todd McKenney may have missed out on the opportunity to take the Australian musical The Boy From Oz to Broadway, and whilst Hugh Jackman’s name has become synonymous with the show around the world, McKenney will always be remembered as the originator of the ultimate Peter Allen portrayal.

Later this year, McKenney returns to the stage in the role once again, this time with Melbourne’s Production Company, to be directed by the legendary Nancye Hayes.

The show will also see the stage return of Amanda Harrison, who recently left Wicked following ongoing vocal complications due to the tough schedule involved with playing Elphaba.

Harrison will play Liza, whilst David Harris will play Greg and Robyn Arthur plays Marion Woolnough.

This is the dazzling, funny and touching story of the great Australian entertainer Peter Allen, from his humble beginnings to his meteoric rise to fame as an international star. Singing in country pubs from age 11, Peter Allen survived family tragedy to become a local TV star at age 16. Discovered by Judy Garland, he married her daughter Liza Minnelli and went on to become a beloved performer and an Oscar-winning songwriter.

The Boy From Oz, which plays at the State Theatre in Melbourne from August, is one of the most contemporary musicals The Production Company has ever presented, and as the company enters its 10th year, it is perhaps an indication that it is not just Broadway classics that have a home with the company.

The 2010 season, which was launched last week, also includes the classic musical The King and I, which opens the season in July.

The King of Siam wants to bring Western culture to his country and engages Anna Leonowens, an attractive English school teacher, to serve as tutor to his many children and wives. Anna and her young son come to the Royal Palace in Bangkok and there begins a unique and moving love story. Cultures and hearts collide as the King defends his traditions while Anna tries to bring change to his family and his world. A unique and moving love story unfolds.

The cast includes Miss Saigon star Juan Jackson, Chelsea Gibb, Silvia Paladino, Adrian Li Donni and Emily Xiao Wang.

Also part of the 2010 Production Company season is the little-known musical Sugar, which will star Mitchell Butel, Matt Hetherington and Christie Whelan.

Based on the film, Some Like It HotSugar is the story of Joe and Jerry, two musicians in the prohibition era who unwittingly witness a gang slaying. To stay alive, they are forced to disguise themselves as women and play in an all female orchestra! They become Daphne and Josephine and embark on a tour with Sweet Sue and her band, the Society Syncopators. Trouble comes in spades when Joe (Josephine) falls for the sexy songstress, Sugar Kane and Daphne (Jerry) is pursued for marriage by a many times married millionaire. Outrageously funny, Sugar is musical comedy at its best.

Production Company Chairman Jeanne Pratt said she was excited about the season ahead.

“With this new season I am so proud to be promoting local creative talent in new stagings of these three brilliant musicals. For the last twelve years we have offered professional engagements to hundreds of artists living here in Melbourne. We have the pleasure of watching many of them go on to major careers in this industry,” she said.

“Equally important, we are entertaining tens of thousands of people with a thrilling musical theatre experience. We do everything possible to make these musicals as affordable and accessible as we can, with the cost of a subscription to all three shows as little as $102, less than the cost of ticket to a single performance of most commercial musicals!”

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Photo: Todd McKenney at last week’s launch. Photo by Jim Lee, thanks to


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