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Before Hugh Jackman there was...

IssaMe
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Before Hugh Jackman there was...#0
Posted: 3/4/04 at 7:10am
The original boy from Oz from "Boy from Oz" - Todd McKenney (who originated the role in Australia) was a major hit last night with his new club show at the casino venue in Sydney.

Totally charismatic - part Broadway, part nightclub...

Peter Allen's song "Everything Old is New Again" was introduced with a Rockette type line of 30-some dancers (all between the ages of 50 and 80!). For the rest of the show it was a big band, two female back-up singers, and two dancers.

Like Jackman, McKenney was bursting with unbelievable energy as he sang through his list of song favorites - bringing to mind the Peter Allen he had so successfully played throughout Australia in the original BFO.

Cream of Australian show business was in attendance.

The "boy" from oz isn't only on Broadway!
Updated On: 3/4/04 at 07:10 AM
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alterego
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re: Before Hugh Jackman there was...#1
Posted: 3/4/04 at 8:33am
About the chorus line of dancers aged between 50 and 80...
They held auditions in Sydney for this about a month or so ago, lots of ex professional dancers came out of the woodwork there was heaps of publicity on television and in the newspapers. Those that were chosen received a call a day or so later informing them that had the gig. Next they were told that there was no payment but they would be allocated a parking space and a meal in the Starcity (Casino) staff cafeteria each night of the three week season. Where was Equity? So much for professional standards.

The cream of Australian showbusiness was there... and I imagine the dairywhip too.
Updated On: 3/4/04 at 08:33 AM
jo
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re: re: Before Hugh Jackman there was...#2
Posted: 3/4/04 at 10:59am
The thing with Hugh Jackman is -

He can probably handle a classic role onstage ( drama, comedy or even Shakespeare) with as much ease as he surprisingly did in THE BOY FROM OZ on Broadway. As he says, his role model for the variety of acting challenges is someone like Kevin Kline.

Jo

IssaMe
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The best thing in the Starcity show for me was the encore - Todd's wonderful rendition of "Tenterfield Saddler" which was also such a touching finale when he sang it in "The Boy from Oz" as originally done in Australia - before the show was rewritten for America.

About Equity and all that (it isn't Equity in Australia --- all the major show business unions have merged) - this show was produced and handled by Todd himself...lots of things happened backstage and behind the scenes that I'd prefer not to comment on...

The show itself was wonderful and it is a shame that these things happened. As awful as it is... my observation is that these old troupers in shows like this - or in America in The Palm Spring Follies - don't speak up for their rights, agree to anything, and when the unions arrive to help them, they tend to fade in fear into the woodwork and hide.

At least the folks in "The Florida Follies" - all over the age of 50 --- up to something like 80 or 90-- are standing up for their professional rights.

These days, if you don't push, you don't get.
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PigletH13
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You know Issa...I'd love to join you for your next trip down under! re: re: re: re: Before Hugh Jackman there was... (Hint Hint!)
addition to the serenity prayer: Help me hide the bodies of the people I had to kill because they pissed me off!!! :-)
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alterego
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I understand that it is now MEAA but if I had said that any Americans reading this would not have understood what I was talking about. I think it is appalling that many professionals that turned up for the audition in the first place were not told that they were going to be treated as amateurs and had the embarrasing situation of being offered a meal and a car space in return for their talents. How much are tickets? Are the public expected to pay top dollar for a show that, it would appear is really semi professional?

Who else is in this show? Are other cast members being paid ? I'm sure Todd Mc Kenney is getting more than a meal and a car space. This whole situation represents the sad state that the Australian entertainment industry is now in.

The Palm Springs Follies is a entirely different situation.
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From what I've seen (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, IssaMe), the tickets are $49-69. What that means by Australian standards I have no idea.
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alterego
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Let's see $69.00 is about $86.00 Australian, and still they aren't paying the 'chorus'?
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it would seem to me that poor mr mc kenney is doomed to spend his life doing leauge club shows mainly consisting of peter allen songs....it is indeed a sad state of affairs that our show-biz elders are treated with SUCH disrespect....as mr mc kenney "produced and handled" the show himself, one can only hope that he keeps in mind that he too will be an entertainer of age one day, would he be prepared to do a show for such a offensive pitance.....i think not!

and just who is the cream of the australian entertainment industry
IssaMe
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RSL clubs? I think not. After a rave in the SMH and incredible buzz about the show - the casino is taking an unprecedented move in offering Todd a longterm contract for 4 days a week (they have other engagements committed to the other days). They have never done this before.

There certainly is nothing wrong in Australia with being known for singing Peter Allen songs...certainly not any kind of "doom" in doing so!

Peter has always been a cultural icon in Australia...one of it's most beloved performers and one of the few who left for America but still remained even more popular at home.

I was with Peter when he did the special Queen Elizabeth show there and it was pandemonium...people laughed at Helen Reddy (she actually wore a tiara to meet the Queen - tacky, tacky, tacky) but Peter was totally idolized. He sang "I Still Call Australia Home" and it became the unofficial national anthem (almost thrown away in the current Broadway production - but a major production number in the original Australian production).

One of the fun parts of Todd's show is "It Had to Be Hugh" - sung to the tune of "It Had to Be You"....since he had been in line to recreate the role on Broadway and was cleared by American Equity. When he got word from Hugh about his auditioning for the role instead, he says that his reaction to the producers was ....

and then he sings "It Had to Be Hugh"....

At home, Todd is cementing his position as Australian's next leading musical star.

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i dont doubt the popularity of the show with the critics...they also loved the australian production of BFO, which was beyond bad...it was amature theatre at pro theatre prices...a show that would never have made it to broadway in its original form, so blatently stealing from other shows, the ONLY saving grace was the performance of a true theatrical veteran ms. jill perryman...as for cementing a position for himself as australia next leading musical star....what projects does he have coming up and i was still wondering who was the cream again....some footballers and a weather girl prehaps
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alterego
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Issamae I don't think anyone was questioning Peter Allen's place in the Australian entertainment industry.However, I have to agree with Mother Cabrini that it would seem that Todd Mc Kenney is doomed to be doing Peter Allen tribute shows forever unless he quickly finds himself a new vehicle. As for him being Australia's next leading musical star, at 40 plus, he is hardly the new kid on the block. He really doesn't have the vocal ability to compare with the likes of Anthony Warlow, Tom Burlinson, Phillip Gould or even Matt Hethrington.

Just what is a long term four day contract?
IssaMe
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A long term contract in this case is one to perform four days a week at the venue over an extended period of time. Long term at this venue can mean weeks, months, or years. A deal like this has never been offered there before.

And this is NOT a Peter Allen tribute show. But it is only natural that he would talk about Peter Allen, Boy From Oz, and sing a couple Peter Allen songs after starring in the musical which is acknowledged to be the most successful home-grown musical in Australian theatrical history - and one in which he has toured all over the country in...and was originally rumoured to be bringing to Broadway.

I mentioned the Peter Allen songs here because of BFO and because this is a THEATER not a cabaret site. It's called being relevant. Had he never originated the role in BFO, he wouldn't even be mentioned here.

He has a tremendous sense of humour about it all. If you folks don't like him, fine --- plenty of people do.

Have you seen his show? How about some comments on THAT?

By the way - just to be clear...for people on this site to make certain comments about the RSL circuit is pretty low...some of the best shows I have ever seen in Australia have been in RSL clubs and I have worked in enough of them myself to appreciate their role in Australian show business history...and I been better treated in them than with some of the famous name Australian promoters/producers.

Yes, some stars of yesteryear do appear there - but so do some of the world's great performers.

It seems whenever anybody wants to slam an Aussie performer they always jump to say "they'll end up on the RSL circuit" or "they are RSL club material"- it is a cheap shot, snobbish, and frankly, to many of us very anti-Australian. And Star City is NOT in that circuit anyway.

Sorry I brought it all up - enough ranting....go back to enjoying Mr. Jackman. We've got Todd.


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PigletH13
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5{r me this is a very interetsing thing to learn about...so please don't stop writing about Todd or Aussie stuff, Issa. I will probably never have an opportunity to go to Australia...so I consider this living somewhat vicariously through you! re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: Before Hugh Jackman the
addition to the serenity prayer: Help me hide the bodies of the people I had to kill because they pissed me off!!! :-)
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alterego
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I certainly didn't rubbish the RSL and League club* shows. In fact for some years the best people worked them, however in recent years shows of quality in these venues would seem to be few and far between. The days of shows with big bands and decent performers are pretty much over. I'm talking about the number of shows not necessarily the quality.

There really never was any chance that Mc Kenney would do the show in NY. Contrary to what was written in Australian papers, there really wasn't that much interest from backers (or public) in a show about Peter Allen and without Hugh Jackman or a performer of his profile to do it it wouldn't of happened. If backers wanted Donny Osmond you would have had Donny Osmond, it's their money and they call the shots.

The best thing Todd Mc Kenney could do for his career at present would be to distance himself (to some extent) from the Peter Allen stuff. Are the 'free' chorus being offered a long term contract or just dessert with dinner in future?

* For people outside Australia, RSL (Returned Servicemen League) and (Rugby) League Clubs are social clubs that offer cheap meals, entertainment and poker machines to their members.
Updated On: 3/6/04 at 01:14 AM
IssaMe
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Long term may not be that long anyway.

David Atkins has booked the showroom at the casino for his new production of Saturday Night Fever - beginning in June.
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ahhh....another quality show by mr atkins....we are so lucky to have him....NOT!
IssaMe
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"Tap Dogs" creator Dein Perry (and his agent/producer Hilary Linstead) got their "revenge" on David Atkins with their scathing satirical bit on him in their feature film "Boot Men".

Also, Mr. Atkins was immigrating to the U.S.A. a couple years ago (all the paperwork was completed)...what happened?