Mini series “Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door” introduced young protagonist who was noodling on the piano in his hometown of Armidale. Also became a lifeline for Allen’s family following the tragic suicide of his alcoholic father, eventually taking him from rural New South Wales to the national spotlight. On a cruise ship gig in Hong Kong he met Judy Garland, a woman who became both mentor and, following his marriage to Liza Minnelli, his mother-in-law. Allen once said, all his songs that serve as a true biography. Such at the stories behind the notably 1972’s Tenterfield Saddler was inspired by his grandfather, a saddle maker. In the “Not The Boy Next Door” could be about Allen’s feeling in the shadow of his wife. But in the spirit of true equality, it also dismay at being savaged in the gay press for not taking a public stand on LGBT issues. In his 40s and having finally come to terms with his sexuality, Allen struggled to reconcile the role of gay rights spokesperson with his desire to appeal to the broadest audience possible. That tension was still unresolved when Allen was tested for HIV and died from an Aids-related illness in 1992.
Not The Boy Next Door obviously is about Allen’s strength. It was all there: in his art, his loyalty and generosity to his family and affection for those he loved and fought to save. Hugh Jackman in The Boy From Oz, a “treat” for finishing all exams as Allen, lowered onto the Tonny’s Award stage atop a glittering piano. Then he spontaniously flirted with Jessica Parker in the front row. In a state where defendants charged with assault can still claim temporary insanity if it followed “homosexual advances”, commonly known as the gay panic defence, it seemed an act of great bravado. As an Ozzier, Jackman understood Allen represented a different kind of Australian man: flamboyant, flirtatious, unafraid of emotion, by demanding a camel to ride onstage. All proof that when his time came, Allen was never anything less than completely himself. And just as he crooned when he took us to Rio in 76, free at last with a blast, as the greatest entertainer in Oz ever. (nDy)