Singing her praises

Peter Allen telemovie star Sara West can walk the walk as Liza Min­nelli – even if she can’t sing or dance. By HOLLY BYRNES

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - NEWS -

ASK Sara West and she’ll tell you: she knows what she wants in life and she isn’t afraid to go af­ter it.

Ask her to sing or dance in front of a live au­di­ence, like her Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door char­ac­ter Liza Min­nelli and it’s a dif­fer­ent story.

The chatty ac­tress from Ade­laide “owned up to (pro­duc­ers) quite early” about her mu­si­cal short­com­ings (which are dubbed in the minis­eries by theatre vet­eran An­gela Toohey).

But ea­ger not about to waste her “once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity”, West threw her­self into be­ing the best lip-sync singer since Ger­man pop fraud­sters Milli Vanilli. And her se­cret? “Ev­ery time you get in your car, you have to belt out the song that comes on like no­body’s busi­ness and not care peo­ple in the traf­fic are watch­ing you … you’ve got to re­ally let go.”

Watch­ing Min­nelli’s early movies, in­clud­ing her turn as a 23-year-old in the 1969 film The Ster­ile Cuckoo, proved an easy way for West to nail the rhythms of the Amer­i­can’s recog­nis­able ac­cent and other phys­i­cal quirks. But it was their shared drive the Win­ter and An­zac Girls ac­tor found most in­spir­ing.

“She was very am­bi­tious back then, which is equal to me, but she’s not pre­pared to push past any­one to get there,” West said. “I as­pire to that also. I think she’s a classy lady.”

While ego can be a dirty word for many women in show busi­ness, West knows ex­actly what she wants and she’s go­ing for it – her im­pres­sive cred­its in­clude as an ac­tor, di­rec­tor and play­wright.

“There’s less of a back­lash if men say that and women are of­ten apolo­getic, but I think it’s (my) time,” she said.

And boy, does she walk the walk, com­bin­ing with fel­low new­comer Joel Jack­son to cap­ture the beau­ti­ful magic of the public and pri­vate re­la­tion­ship be­tween Min­nelli and Allen.

While their mar­riage may have ended in scan­dal (af­ter Allen came out as gay), they main­tained a touch­ing friend­ship un­til his death in 1992.

West cred­its her tal­ented co-star for recre­at­ing that chem­istry on screen.

“In so many ways, I felt like he re­ally nur­tured me through it, which is ridicu­lous be­cause he had 1000 things go­ing on, but that was ex­actly what their re­la­tion­ship was like,” she said. “Liza was search­ing for a mas­cu­line energy in her life and he was that for her.” PETER ALLEN: NOT THE BOY NEXT DOOR SUN­DAY, 8.40PM, SEVEN

Chem­istry: Joel Jack­son and Sara West shine as Peter Allen and Liza Min­nelli in the Peter Allen telemovie.

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