In his volunteer role at the Tenterfield Saddler Barry Brooks takes great care to accurately relate the history of the little shop, and of saddler George Woolnough’s claim to fame courtesy of his grandson Peter Allen.
Mr Brooks was well into his spiel for a group of visitors who landed on the doorstep on Saturday, May 26 when the gentleman of the group started pointing out photos of himself on the saddlery’s walls.
The gentleman was in fact Todd McKenney, who has spent countless hours on stage celebrating the life and music of Peter Allen.
He delighted audiences as the original star of the musical The Boy From Oz and has been shaking Allen’s maracas in various guises ever since.
“I didn’t recognise him,” Mr Brooks said.
“He came in with two women and I said ‘make yourself at home’ and they were taking pictures and talking.”
Mr Brooks said he did notice McKenney’s wry smile as he imparted his knowledge on how the song Tenterfield Saddler encapsulated Peter Allen’s life, a song and life story with which McKenney is already very familiar.
“He seemed to be interested,” Mr Brooks said.
Of course the spiel covers not only Tenterfield’s intimate connection with world-famous entertainer Peter Allen but also with other famous figures like Banjo Patterson and even, surprisingly, Johnny Cash.
McKenney and his group didn’t let on about his identity until the presentation concluded, but then spent some time checking out the shop and taking photos. He even tried on Peter Allen’s size 14 shoes, where the standard line is ‘you can walk in Peter Allen’s footsteps’.
“Of course Todd McKenney is already walking in Peter Allen’s footsteps,” Mr Brooks said.
“He told me Peter Allen is the reason he’s where he is today.”
A lot of people wanted photos taken with the celebrity and Mr Brooks said McKenney was very nice, and seemed to enjoy the visit.
“They took more photos out front, just like any tourist.”
Sadly there appears to be no basis to rumours that McKenney is bringing a busload of people back for the Peter Allen Festival and that they’ve booked into the Tally Ho Motel, although host Paul Quinn said they’d be quite welcome to do so.
McKenney and his co-star Nancy Hayes were in the New England region to perform in the stage show Bosom Buddies at Tamworth’s Capitol Theatre. Late last year, he also performed at the venue in his show which pays homage to Peter Allen, Todd McKenney Sings Peter Allen: The Piano Sessions.
On Facebook, McKenney said he loved Tenterfield, describing it as a gorgeous place with lovely people.
READ MORE:$20,000 grant for Peter Allen Festival
The upcoming inaugural Peter Allen Festival was launched on the steps of the Tenterfield Saddler building recently.
Over three days in September, performances will include ticketed shows at the School of Arts and Tenterfield Memorial Hall, while Rouse Street will be transformed into Peter Allen Boulevard from 8am to 5pm on the Saturday, closed to traffic but jammed with 180 market stalls, workshops, entertainment and performing stages.