In Bendigo Theatre Company’s The Boy From Oz, Jason McMurray fills the role of Peter Allen with enthusiasm, charm and ability.
As soon as we meet McMurray’s version of iconic Australian performer Peter Allen, it is hard not to want to listen to everything he says.
The show is built as a Peter Allen concert interspersed with scenes from his life as well as stories told directly to the audience by Peter.
The Boy From Oz is the type of show that thrives on audience energy and involvement and McMurray’s natural demeanor should mean crowds will engage with him easily.
We follow Peter’s life from a young boy in Armidale to an aspiring performer in New York we meet the people he loved, was inspired by and wrote songs for.
But while McMurray may carry the show there is an obvious mountain of talent underneath him.
Young Peter Allen is played by Macklin Wellard. The 15-year-old will amaze audiences as he dances and sings his way through Peter’s formative years.
As Peter’s mother Marion Woolnough, Kristie Woodward puts forward a loving performance that includes a spellbinding rendition of Don’t Cry Out Loud.
Kerry Lorenz and Saari Frochot-Ryan both superbly take on the roles of Judy Garland and Liza Minelli.
Providing some excellent harmonies and backing vocals for McMurray is Alicia Barker, Amy McMillan and Laura-Jane Leach as Peter’s singing trio Sheena, Karen and Linelle.
The remainder of the cast has been well-selected by director John Murray with outstanding individual performances combining to create a truly ensemble performance.
It is clear from the outset that the company has worked hard to keep the show as tight as possible.
With a simple set and smart use of lighting, the cast is constantly in the spotlight meaning there is little place to hide if anything goes awry.
Costume designer Julian Regan has done a stellar job dressing the cast and providing Peter with a huge number of sequinned shirts and eye-catching dresses.
Choreographer Shantelle Rathbone should be proud of the dance numbers she has created for the show.
From Liza Minelli’s performance to an ensemble Charleston that is so impressive the cast could do it blindfolded.
Like the rest of the show, each step has been carefully planned and is wonderfully executed.
The Boy From Oz opens on Friday, September 23, at 8pm at The Capital. It is also on September 24 and 30 and October 1 at 8pm and October 2 at 2pm. To book tickets phone 5434 6100.