Entertainer Todd McKenney should work for the Greater Port Macquarie Tourism Association – he loves our town that much.
“It’s beautiful, the people are so friendly. We’d heard about the Glasshouse about four years ago and people commented how beautiful it was. Then I was doing Grease in Brisbane and so we thought we’d stay for a couple of days on the way back. I went for a walk along the boardwalk and along the beaches. It was stunning,” McKenney says.
He even credits his friend, and fellow Dancing with the Stars judge Helen Richey’s move to Laurieton, to his praise of the region. Richey will make a special guest appearance during McKenney’s show on December 2. “We’ll have a Q & A with the audience, it’ll be a lovely time.”
He says the Glasshouse is his favourite regional venue. “The staff are so friendly and professional. When you do this every weekend, you know who gets it right and they do.”
His tour celebrates the 20th anniversary of his portrayal of Peter Allen in The Boy from Oz. His love of performing shows. “It’s fun. I’ve always been a bit of a show off. I take it very seriously, but I like to keep it relaxed for the audience. We want them to let us take them away from their everyday troubles.
“Arts and live theatre are a different experience, you never get the same show twice. You get to change it up depending on audience interaction. It’s a lesson in body language.”
McKenney has been a fan of Peter Allen since his mum took him to see the flamboyant star in Perth. “I was a young (12 years old) dancer and I was mesmerised by his energy and surprised at how funny he was.”
Speaking of his stardom, McKenney says Allen’s assocation with legendary Judy Garland “certainly didn’t do him any harm”. “It [Judy’s support] certainly was a great leg up, but she obviously saw something in him. She liked his swagger.” As to whether Allen would have become as famous on his own, McKenney says “who knows”.
His favourite Allen songs are the “torch songs”. “The reaction when I play the first few notes of Tenterfield Saddler makes the whole show worth it. I Honestly Love You is another. I set them up and talk about why he wrote them and for whom.”
McKenney sings about 22 songs in the show and ads some from artists who were friends of Allen, including Bette Midler, Judy Garland and Liza Minelli. He says he loves the audience to sing along. “The more they sing, the less I have to!”
His next project is a play called Bosom Buddies with Nancye Hayes, but after that he plans to “lie on a couch and read a book” to recharge his batteries for much of 2019.
So don’t miss the chance to see him in action, he’s a 10.