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
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.