The story of Australian performer Peter Allen comes to life at Richmond Triangle Players this week in ‘The Boy From Oz’
Starting tomorrow, Richmond Triangle Players will bring a musical to their stage that tells the tale of a famed performer and writer who struggled with their career and identity.
The Boy From Oz is a true story based on the life of Australian performer Peter Allen (played by Chris Hester). Allen found his passion early in his life and taught himself dance and piano at a very young age. As he got older, he became a popular entertainer in Australia and went on tour in a two-person act called “The Allen Brothers”.
When Allen was touring in Hong Kong, he performed in a hotel where the popular singer and actress Judy Garland (Grey Garrett), was staying. Upon seeing Allen perform, she took him under her wing and decided to make him her opening act.
Allen was taken to New York and is introduced to Garland’s daughter, Liza Minnelli (Anna Grey Hogan) who he later married.
Throughout the show, Allen struggles with his performance career and his own identity. This show is about finding yourself, losing love and coming to terms with your sexuality. The story is carried through songs that Allen had written himself throughout his career.
“This is a wonderful show about being true to yourself and blazing your own path in the world,” said director and choreographer Justin Amellio. “I was drawn to this message as well as the chance to tell the story of Peter Allen, one of the most talented writers and performers to grace the stage.”
The performance is an emotional rollercoaster with non-stop singing and dancing. Chris Hester, who stars as Allen, said that he has taken 18 months to prepare for this strenuous role.
“This role taps into every single skill a musical theatre actor has to have,” said Hester. “It’s not a double threat, it’s more like a quintuple threat.”
He prepared for this role with voice coaches, tap lessons and a speech coach to work on the Australian accent. He also worked on piano pieces for the performance that he will be playing live.
Hester, originally from Burlington, North Carolina, grew up in theatre almost his entire life. He graduated from Duke University majoring in History and Art History. His debut in Richmond was 11 years ago in the play Sordid Lives, a comedy about a Texas family who comes together for the funeral of their mother, with Richmond Triangle Players.
In addition to being physically demanding, the role of Peter Allen is also emotionally demanding. With many emotional ups and downs Hester said that he was able to tap into a lot of feelings in his performance from his own life. Drawing from times where he was trying to find his own place in the world, but especially those scenes where Allen is talking with his mother.
“Nearly every scene, is a scene or moment that I’ve had with my own mom.” said Hester.
The Boy from Oz will debut June 15th at the Richmond Triangle Players theater in Scott’s Addition and will run until July 16. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here.
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