September 12, 2015 7:40am
Holly ByrnesNational TV writerNews Corp Australia Network
Ambition ... Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door star Sara West as Liza Minnelli. Picture: Tony Mott/Channel 7
JUST ask Sara West and she’ll tell you: she knows what she wants in life and she ain’t afraid to go after it.
Ask her to sing or dance in front of a live audience, like her Peter Allen: Not The Boy Next Door character, Liza Minnelli and it’s a totally different story.
As the chatty actress from Adelaide confesses, she “owned up to (producers) quite early” about her musical shortcomings (which are dubbed in the miniseries by theatre veteran, Angela Toohey).
But not about to waste her “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” West says she threw herself into being the best lip-synch singer since those German pop fraudsters, Milli Vanilli.
Lip-synch sensation ... Sara West admitted early on to producers that couldn’t dance or sing, with her vocals as Liza Minnelli dubbed by musical theatre star Angela Toohey. Picture: Tony Mott/Channel 7
And her secret?
“Literally every time you get in your car, you have to belt out the song that comes on like nobody’s business and not care that people in the traffic are watching you … you’ve got to really let go.”
Watching Minnelli’s early movies, including her acclaimed turn as a 23-year-old in the 1969 film, The Sterile Cuckoo, proved an easy way for West to nail the rhythms of the American’s recognisable accent and other physical tics.
But it was their shared drive which the Winter and Anzac Girls actor found most inspiring.
“She was very ambitious back then which is equal to me, but she’s not prepared to push past anyone to get there,” West said. “And I aspire to that also. I think she’s a classy lady.”
While ego can be a dirty word for many women in show business, West knows exactly what she wants and she’s going for it — (her impressive credits include as an actor, director and playwright).
“There’s less of a backlash if men say that and women are often apologetic, but I think it’s (my) time,” she said.
Chemistry ... West credits her co-star Joel Jackson (as Peter Allen) for nurturing her through the production. Picture: Tony Mott/Channel 7
And boy, does she walk the talk, combining with fellow newcomer, Joel Jacksonto capture the beautiful magic of that was Minnelli and Allen’s public and private relationship.
While their marriage may have ended in scandal (after Allen came out as a gay man), they maintained a touching friendship until his death in 1992.
West credits her talented co-star for recreating that chemistry on screen.
“In so many ways, I felt like he really nurtured me through it, which is ridiculous because he had a thousand things going on, but that was exactly what their relationship was like. Liza was searching for a masculine energy in her life and he was that for her. I think that was good for both of them … that he could be that for somebody as well was really important.”
PETER ALLEN: NOT THE BOY NEXT DOOR
SUNDAY, 8.40PM, SEVEN