Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Boy From Melb

In case it's not obvious, I'm really rather heavily excited about my upcoming trip to Europe (and must keep a paper bag upon my person at all times in case of hyperventilation). I had a taste-test last Thursday when I flew up to Sydney for the opening of The Boy From Oz with the lovely Hugh Jackson (ETA: Duuuuh...Jackman. What was I thinking?). He wears the above expression for pretty much the entire show.

Now, first up, I don't recommend doing a Melb-Syd-Melb turnaround in under 20 hours. It's just not right, as thrilling as it may be to find yourself sprinting through Sydney airport at 8am while you're being called over the PA.

Still, the show was hugely enjoyable. As theatre (or even musical theatre) it's absolutely crap, with very few redeeming points. But as a big fat fun ridiculously camp concert, it's terrific. It's huge. Hugh prances and poses and preens with wild abandon, and doesn't just channel Peter Allen but evokes all of the many Australian entertainers who've presented a decidedly queer pose to mainstream Australia and been loved for it. Allen really was our Liberace, our Elton John, and like those entertainers was massively successful despite their sexuality. I guess the key is that they were never allowed to come out and openly admit that they were gay; there always had to be the opportunity for audiences to disavow what now seems blindingly obvious. Which is pretty sad, of course.

The first half of The Boy From Oz doesn't even tackle Allen's love life with any great detail; it almost feels like it's being deliberately covered up. The second half, however, is a different matter, with much of it spent covering one relationship of Allen's, with a New York bartender named Greg who passes away of an unspecified illness. When he comes back all in white, and he and Allen sing Olivia Newton John's "I Love You (I Honestly...Love Youuuuu)" (which Allen wrote), well, despite the incredibly tacky setup, it really works. And the many thousands at the opening night at the Sydney Entertainment Centre were audibly appreciative. Couple that with the many tears that rolled over Big Brother's reunion of David and his great love Sherif, and I couldn't help wondering at how far the depiction of gay love in mainstream Australian culture has come in the past decade. I was quite impressed, though I haven't really looked into the issue in much depth, and it doesn't need to be pointed out that we're hardly in a land of happy acceptance, or even tolerance, not by a long shot.

I mean, Allen and Greg couldn't have gotten married, here, for one thing.


Anonymous said...

Hugh Jackman, not Jackson.

Born Dancin' said...

Wait a minute, it was Jackson at the show I saw. Where the hell was I? Wasn't it the Boy From Oz? Hmmm, that would explain why the show was in a pub beer garden with a cast of four.