Young talent shines in the untold story of Peter Allen

Joel Jackson and Sara West in a scene from Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.
Joel Jackson and Sara West in a scene from Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door. Tony Mott

THE life story of Peter Allen is one wild ride through the wings of show business.

Allen's bumpy ride to international fame is chronicled in Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.

The expansive two-part mini-series explores Allen's life from growing up in the country towns of Armidale and Tenterfield in NSW, through to the legendary TV pop show Bandstand.

It also covers the Allen Brothers era to meeting Judy Garland and marrying her daughter Liza Minnelli, coming out, a last performance in Sydney and his death from AIDS-related throat cancer.

The drama stars rising Aussie talents: Joel Jackson as Allen and Sara West as Minnelli.

"When they first asked me to audition I thought my agent had made a mistake," West tells APN.

Sara West and Joel Jackson in Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door.
Sara West and Joel Jackson in Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door. Tony Mott

"I said 'go back and make sure'. I thought if I go in and try to play Liza and embarrass myself then it's going to be a disaster. I thought it was just so bizarre because I don't look anything like her."

West makes a stunning transformation into Minnelli, whom Allen met just as she emerged from her famous mother's shadow to become a star in her own right.

As well as looking the part, West spent months working on Minnelli's accent, mannerisms and singing style.

"At first I was really nervous about it. She is very distinctive in how she speaks," she says.

"It was scary because you want to get it right. We had a dialect coach on set the whole time and once I found out I had to dance I forgot about how scary the accent was (laughs)."

While the mini-series is a dramatised version of events, West believes she and Jackson got to the core of Allen and Minnelli's relationship. The performers were married for seven years before Allen came out as being gay.

"They really found solace in each other when they were young," she says.

"Their relationship in our story - but I like to think in reality as well - was so genuine; they really cared for each other. I think they got caught up in the hype of young Hollywood and what you're meant to do when you fall in love is get married. They were engaged for two years so I think the relationship was genuine. It's just a shame that they weren't right for each other."

The drama also stars Rebecca Gibney as Allen's mother Marion Woolnough, Sigrid Thornton as Garland and Andrew Lees as Allen's late partner Gregory Connell.

Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door premieres tonight at 8.40pm on Channel 7.

Topics:  channel 7 peter allen

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