Whoa, whoa, whoa, when my babyyyy, when my baby smiles at me, I go to Rio.
As soon as the first notes of Peter Allen's catchy tune rang out in the
Princess Theatre at Friday night's delayed opening, the audience of The Boy from Oz
began to clap and cheer. Star Todd McKenney, decked out in a red-sequinned
pants-suit, whirled and shimmied across the stage.
Adrenaline pumping, the cast of more than 30 joined him, flooding the
set with vivid colour. Female dancers, wearing fruit-salad headgear speared with
colourful feathers, and men in Lycra leggings and enormous frills of satin waving from
their shoulders, leapt and boogied.
The energy was palpable. The crowd clapped in time with the music,
jumping to their feet when McKenney ran forward for a final bow.
Outside, people gathered around gaily dressed fire-eaters and stilt
walkers. Drummers pounded an infectious rhythm.
And Melbourne's A-list -- Steve Vizard, Marina Prior, Rebecca Gibney,
Bruno Grollo and Rhonda Burchmore among them -- were snapped in the bright lights of TV
and press cameras.
The carnival mood even had men in tuxedos wiggling their hips.
Whooping and banging a festive beat, the musicians led the crowd along
Spring Street to the Sofitel Ballroom, where the after-show party was about to begin.
Here, the Latin American flavour flowed on. Coloured streamers
and pinata-inspired animals dangled from the ceiling.
Featherclad women greeted guests as they pressed into the room.
And, it seemed, there was a television newsreader at every turn.
Perhaps this was an indication of the street cred Chrissie Amphlett, as
Judy Garland, brings to the show.
Regular musical theatre patrons, among them Edna Edgley (promoter
Michael's mother), found themselves rubbing shoulders with Jogn Safran and Dylan Lewis.
Producer Ben Gannon gave a short speech and encouraged everyone to take
advantage of Friday being a great night for a party.
McKenney, standing under an exaggeratedy fake palm tree, was
besieged by well-wishers.
Annette Alison, who was a friend of Peter Allen, said McKenney was
Marina Prior gave him a congratulatory kiss, musical entrepreneur Simon
Gallaher told him he was "fab", and a Neighbours star was thrust forward to be
introduced and photographed with him.
Then the band began, and so did the limbo.
Despite the cast having a matinee performance the next day, they put in
a stirling effort schmoozing. Ensemble performer Paul "Bad Boy" Batey, perhaps
embossing his reputation, had a drink in each hand (oh, alright, one was an orange juice).
Generally, the cast thought the audience, which had waited a week longer
to see the show because McKenney injured his leg, took a little time to warm up.
McKenney agreed, saying he could read an audience's mood very quickly.
Where once he would crank it up if he felt the crowd was too laid back.
Now he relaxed and let it flow naturally.
He won them over.
Left: Dylan Lewis and Chrissie Amphlett. Right: how low can you go?