"How Peter Allen ever sang again is beyond me."

Peter Allen’s life was like a roller-coaster of highs and lows and the two part mini series Peter Allen – Not The Boy Next Door is exactly the same.

I spent half smiling like a loon and the rest sobbing on my couch.

Now, I love musicals but I didn’t ever get to see Boy From Oz. So although I thought I knew about Peter Allen’s life, I quickly found out what I actually knew could fit into 140 characters.

@shellyhorton1 Peter Allen: country kid, song writer & performer, Oscar winner, married Hollywood royalty, closet gay #talent

When I watched the first episode, due to go to air this Sunday at 8:40pm on Channel Seven, I wasn’t prepared for how horrible his childhood was and how amazing he was to overcome it.

Young Peter Woolnough (see I didn’t even know Allen wasn’t his real last name – sheesh) is played by 14 year old Ky Baldwin.  He is spectacular as the all singing, all dancing youngster.

Ky Baldwin plays the young Peter in Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.

Growing up in Armidale, NSW in 1957, Peter projected a happy go lucky kid playing piano at the local pub for pocket money.

Rebecca Gibney plays Marion his kind and accepting mother.  She is magnificent.
I could watch Rebecca every night of the week and she nails this performance.

Rebecca Gibney plays the Peter’s mother Marion in Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.

What Peter was hiding was a horrific relationship with his alcoholic father who was violent and cold to him.

“You know how hard it is for me with you like you are?” 

“Why aren’t you ever proud of me Daddy?”

“I am proud of parts of ya.  But then Pete, ya know, I’m only proud of parts of myself.”

Soon after that his father takes a shot gun and kills the family dog and then himself. Leaving Peter and his mother to scrub the blood off the walls.


How Peter ever sang again is beyond me.

The producers use an interesting technique where a scene is filmed of young Peter while older Peter looks on just wistfully observing.  It works well and portrays a deep sadness.

The episode then jumps to when he’s 20 years old and in partnership in the Allen Brothers duo (so that’s where his last name came in).

Joel Jackson plays older Peter and embodies the role joyously.  Joel is a NIDA graduate who does all of his own singing and dancing – keep an eye out for his name because after this I’m expecting big things.

Joel Jackson plays the adult Peter in Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.

The Allen Brothers are discovered by superstar Judy Garland in Hong Kong and she is so impressed she becomes their manager. Peter’s few “indiscretions” are kept well hidden and with Judy as matchmaker, he marries her daughter Liza Minnelli.

Sigrid Thornton does an impressive job of playing the tortured, heavy drinking Judy and Sara West plays Liza but is not swamped by the pixie cut and doe-eyes.

Sigrid Thornton plays the Judy Garland in Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.

The episode ends with Peter doing some soul searching after marrying Hollywood royalty but losing himself.

By the end my heart was aching for him.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to be so confused about your sexuality and afraid of coming out.

Episode two will air the next Sunday night on September 20 and covers his diagnosis of AIDS.