Todd McKenney is not one to sit around waiting for work. If he’s not in a musical or on television, he produces things for himself. And with three stage shows on the go, he is becoming quite the entrepreneur.
“I’ve got a big mortgage, I have to,” he says with a big laugh.
“That’s the problem with buying a big house, it comes with a big mortgage. It does motivate me to keep getting out there but I am also single. I’ve got my dogs and I’ve got my career. I don’t have a partner. I don’t have any real distractions. If I’m not (working) I’m just sitting at home. And I love (performing) so why not do it?
“I do think it’s a double edged thing,” he adds. “Because I work so much I don’t get out to meet people but then if I had a partner I don’t think I’d work as much – so I don’t know if I really want one or not. It’s a cliché but I’m pretty much married to my work.”
McKenney’s latest show What a Life! premieres at Glen Street Theatre in Belrose on July 7 and then tours to Dapto, Campbelltown, Bankstown and Rooty Hill, with performances in Melbourne at the end of the year.
Although it celebrates his 30 years in showbiz, McKenney says that it won’t be a chronological survey of his career. “I don’t want it to be a musical theatre show. I want it to be artists and music from whatever genre that have influenced me growing up. Every single song has had a big impact on me,” he says.
“It’s a really mixed bag of material. There’s some Peter Allen, of course, but not much of it. There is everything from The Andrews Sisters to Bette Midler, Tom Jones, Prince – all the music that I grew up with – and a medley from Cabaret so it’s musical theatre meets pop meets nostalgia meets Peter Allen.”
The former hoofer has decided to dust off his tap shoes for a rendition of I Got Rhythm to end Act I. “I put them on and clopped around my lounge room making sure my feet still know what to do – and they did. My dogs were looking at me thinking, ‘what the heck?’ But that was when I got the biggest wave of nostalgia. I haven’t choreographed tap dancing for myself in 25 years,” he says.
The show will end with a Peter Allen mega-medley. “I think I’d by lynched if I didn’t do Peter Allen. But I want to try and do slightly different arrangements of things and some songs that aren’t in the Peter Allen show,” he says.
His other shows include the popular Todd McKenney Sings Peter Allen, performed with his band and backing vocalists (which arrives at Penrith Panthers on July 1 and Mittagong RSL on July 2) and The Piano Sessions, a more intimate show touring regional NSW from September, which he describes as a cross-between the Peter Allen show and What a Life!
In September, McKenney also plans to launch a series of Sunday afternoon “in conversations” at the Ensemble Theatre where he is patron, at which he will interview a musical theatre performer and intersperse their chat with songs.
As he says: “I’m not short of an idea!”
What a Life! plays at Glen St Theatre, Belrose, July 7 – 9. Bookings: 02 9975 1455. Touring details: www.toddmckenney.com.au
A version of this story appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on June 26