shows: Todd McKenney shakes his maraccas
Todd McKenney hits a new note in the Peter Allen story, writes Victoria Hannaford
ASKED what he’s been up to in the morning, Todd McKenney pulls a funny face. ‘‘Just talking about myself . . . which gets a bit boring. I just feel like I get less interesting by about 11am,’’ he says and crosses his eyes.
It’s 11am already, but McKenney can’t help being entertaining – even when he’s professing to be dull.
In the past 12 months, he’s completed a stint on stage in Annie The Musical and reprised his role as a judge on Dancing
With The Stars – McKenney is clearly a showbiz grafter. He’s put this work ethic into a new show, Songs and Stories of
Peter Allen, which is touring the country. ‘‘I don’t want to put a show together that no one comes to watch,’’ he says.
‘‘I could put a show on in my loungeroom if that’s what I wanted to do, but I love what I do, so I’m happy to talk about it.’’
The show is McKenney’s homage to Allen. Their stars became entwined after McKenney played him in The Boy From
Oz, but Songs and Stories of Peter Allen is a new production.
‘‘I didn’t want to do my own personal one-man version of (biographical musical) The Boy From Oz. I went back to research him again, and I realised there were major influences in his life, like Judy Garland, Al Jolson, Fats Waller, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Liza Minelli,’’ McKenney says.
‘‘So I get to sing songs from those artists and his hits as well.’’ McKenney credits his role in The Boy
From Oz with raising his profile to household-name status. ‘‘I wouldn’t have gone on Dancing
With The Stars if The Boy From Oz hadn’t given me a public profile. So it’s my story I’m telling, rather than Peter’s story,’’ he says.
McKenney says his connection with Allen is personal.
‘‘I’ve got a story about meeting him and his family and accidentally meeting his sister, Lynne, in Bondi. My dogs would play with hers and we got talking and I told her how much I loved him.’’
McKenney became friends with Lynne in 1996 and their relationship was pivotal when the chance came to play Allen in The Boy From Oz.
Allen’s family found the idea of the musical painful and were unsure.
‘‘Lynne called when I had to do the audition and asked if I could come to the house,’’ McKenney says.
‘‘His mum had packed up three of his sequined shirts and Lynne told me, ‘Mum said we would prefer the show didn’t happen, but if anyone’s going to play Peter, we hope it’s you’.
‘‘I took them and I got the role and I’ve always felt incredibly endorsed by the family . . . I feel like I give weight to singing Peter Allen’s material.’’
Todd McKenney: Songs and
Stories of Peter Allen plays Jupiters Theatre tomorrow and the QPAC Concert Hall, Brisbane, on Saturday.