Todd McKenney

Todd McKenney (born 31 May 1965) is an Australian entertainer. He is best known for portraying Peter Allen in the musical The Boy from Oz and as a judge on Australian television show Dancing with the Stars.

Early life

McKenney grew up in Perth, where his father was a jail warden and his mother a dance teacher. They separated when he was 9.[1] He began his entertainment career on a children's television show as Percy Penguin.[1]

McKenney trained in jazz, tap, acrobatics and ballroom dancing. He represented Australia in ballroom and Latin American dancing, and won many international awards.[2]


McKenney has performed on stage since 1983 in productions including 42nd Street, The Pirates of Penzance, La Cage aux Folles, Singin' in the Rain, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the Musical.[3] In 1992, he played the role of ballroom dancer Nathan Starkey in Baz Luhrmann's film Strictly Ballroom, alongside his future Dancing with the Stars co-star Sonia Kruger, as well as Paul Mercurio.[4]

McKenney rose to fame in 1998 when he took the lead role of Peter Allen in the Australian production of The Boy from Oz.[1] He performed the role 766 times between 1998 and 2000, however when the production went to Broadway in 2003, Hugh Jackman landed the role over McKenney.[1]

Outside musical theatre, McKenney is best known as the "nasty judge" on Australia's version of Dancing with the Stars.[3] He has appeared on all fifteen seasons of the show since 2004.[5]

McKenney took on his first non-musical role in 2006, starring as Michael Minetti in the Ensemble Theatre production of Richard Alfieri's two-hander play Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks with Nancye Hayes at the Playhouse Theatre in the Sydney Opera House.[6][7] The play remains the most successful in the Ensemble Theatre's history, and the pair reprised these roles ten years later at the Concourse Theatre, Chatswood, reuniting with Sandra Bates for her final directorial role.[8] McKenney performed his Casting Couch production at the Ensemble's Kirribilli premises in 2016, interviewing Queenie van de Zandt, Georgie Parker, and Simon Burke in different performances.[9]

McKenney and Hayes dancing together in the 2016 Ensemble Theatre production of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (Photos by Clare Hawley, taken at the Concourse Theatre, Chatswood)

In 2006, McKenney hosted the television game show You May Be Right, which was cancelled after a month on air.[10] He hosted the breakfast program on Sydney radio station Mix 106.5 with Dancing with the Stars co-host Sonia Kruger, as well as Andy Grace, from January 2008 until September 2009.

On 19 May 2010 and on 27 December 2010, McKenney guest co-hosted The Morning Show alongside Kylie Gillies, while regular male presenter Larry Emdur was on holidays.

In 2011 McKenney portrayed Lord Evelyn Oakley in a limited showing of Anything Goes in Melbourne, alongside Amanda Harrison.[11] In 2012, he played the role of Rooster in the hit musical Annie alongside Anthony Warlow, Nancye Hayes and Alan Jones.[12]

McKenney plays Teen Angel in the 2013-2014 Australian National Touring Company production of the hit musical Grease, starring alongside Bert Newton, John Paul Young, Rob Mills, and Gretel Scarlett. Although he is on stage for less than four minutes,[3] critics have said he "steals the show."[13][14]

McKenney released a tribute album to Peter Allen on Friday 22 November 2013, called Todd McKenney sings Peter Allen.[15]

In 2019 he headlined a production of Barnum (musical).

Personal life

McKenney is openly gay.[16] He has a daughter (who was conceived via IVF), Charlotte Wood, who lives in Melbourne with her mother, Anne Wood.[2] McKenney has said his first girlfriend, at twelve years of age, was dancer and presenter Sonia Kruger.[17]


  1. Gill, Raymond (19 May 2012). "Lunch with Todd McKenney". The Age. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  2. Broun, Shirley (16 October 2013). "Todd McKenney - the new Teen Angel". On With The Show. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  3. Blake, Elissa (13 October 2013). "At home with Todd McKenney". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  4. Butler, Joshua (24 March 2014). "Albion Park dancer gets to team up with Baz". Illawarra Mercury. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  5. Symonds, Kirsty (24 August 2012). "Dancing with the Stars judge Todd McKenney returns to Perth for 'Annie'". Perth Now. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  6. Hallett, Bruce (13 February 2006). "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  7. Huntsdale, Justin (17 February 2016). "Theatre legends Todd McKenney and Nancye Hayes unite for heart-warming play". ABC News. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  8. Hook, Chris (3 February 2016). "Ten years later, McKenney and Hayes bring Six Dance Lessons play back for another spin on stage". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  9. Apfelbaum, Ben (13 October 2016). "Queenie van de Zaandt joins Todd McKenney on the Casting Couch @ The Ensemble". Sydney Arts Guide. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  10. Knox, David (20 March 2009). "Panel Beaters". Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  11. Herbert, Kate (22 July 2011). "Review:Anything Goes". Herald Sun. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  12. Roach, Vicky (27 June 2011). "Todd McKenney, Alan Jones, Anthony Warlow star in new production of Annie the musical". Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  13. Bailey, John (6 December 2013). "Todd McKenney steals limelight as teen angel". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  14. Godfrey, Bruce (13 August 2014). "Theatre Review: Grease". Glam Adelaide. Retrieved 13 August 2014.
  15. "Todd McKenney Sings The Songs Of Peter Allen For Fanfare". 17 November 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  16. O'Neill, Marnie; Moran, Jonathon; Reines, Ros (27 April 2008). "Todd McKenney collapses in park after party". The Sunday Mail (Qld). Retrieved 4 September 2008.
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