The Fame Reporter interviewed Irish born Australian talented and charismatic performer, Bobby Fox. He is set to star in SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN-IN CONCERT at QPAC from 11 – 13 November. Bobby is playing the iconic role of Don Lockwood in the classic musical, made famous by Gene Kelly.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, audiences will experience the delightful story, beautiful voices and some of the best tapping and dance talent this country has ever seen. Singin’ in the Rain – In Concert features stunning choreography and timeless songs adored by generations.
Bobby Fox originated the role of Franki Valli in the Australian production of Jersey Boys which he performed over 850 times. He is a 4 times World Irish Dance Champion and toured with dance production Riverdance and starred in the revival of Australian musical Hot Shoe Shuffle as Spring.
On stage Bobby has had lead roles in Blood Brothers, Mamma Mia!, Leader of the Pack, Dusty – The Original Pop Diva, We Will Rock You among others. In 2016 and 2017 he appeared in Ladies in Black which toured nationally and for which he received a Green Room Award nomination. Later in 2017 he performed in Assassins at The Hayes Theatre and he received a Helpmann Award nomination and more.
We had the exciting opportunity to sit down with the multi-talented comedic and humble performer Bobby Fox. Bobby talked about his experience working in Australian theatre, what he loves about his character Don in Singin’ in the Rain in Concert, his incredible experience with ‘Do you hear the people sing’ and more.
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Bobby, what enticed you to play the iconic role of Don Lockwood in the Singin’ in the Rain Concert at QPAC?
I was called by the director/choreographer Cameron Mitchell and asked me to do it. I said of course because it is such an iconic role and poses such an amazing challenge to step into those graceful loafers.
Have you ever played Don Lockwood or wanted to play him before?
I auditioned for the show previously, but I went in for Cosmo. I wasn’t really that suited to Don. I wasn’t ready for it. To be asked to play him now is a very exciting opportunity.
Initially what sparked your interest in performing?
I started out just as an Irish dancer in Ireland. I did that competitively and as an amateur at home. When I was about 13 years old the Riverdance boom happened. I saw the show and it was amazing and I ended up auditioning for the show a few years later. They offered me a part.
Once I got into the show and I was with all these other dancers it just completely ignited my passion for performing and for dancing. So that’s when it really kicked in that I wanted to be a performer.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
Post Molone, Conor McGregor (The Irish fighter) and Maya Rudolph.
What have past choreographers or dance teachers taught you and how do you carry that into your career and daily life?
My favourite dance teachers were the ones that were really about technique and practice.
The only ballet teacher I ever had told me the difference between an amateur and a professional is that an amateur practices until they get it right and a professional practices until they don’t get it wrong.
That always stuck with me. I was naturally doing that with certain things. That rings true in my mind whenever I’m rehearsing and getting something together for a performance. It is just a great mantra to have and a wonderful way to look at practice and the joy of it.
How does the concert version of Singin’ in the Rain differ from the stage musical?
They are calling it ‘In Concert’ because we have a live orchestra on stage with us as we perform the show. For the performers on stage nothing will be different. We will be performing the script, the songs, the dances, the scenes the direction, every beat, every comma, every syllable, every dash, every paragraph, every sentence from the script and from the libretto, the score will be performed.
The only thing is it will be presented a tiny bit more like a concert. There is some set, but it looks like if you were seeing a concert, the set looks a little more like that. We still do all of the core elements and stripping it back that way it puts a spotlight on to those individual elements.
So it is us performers that need to completely ignite the script and what’s written on the page. Also, we need to create those worlds that are in our heads so that the audience instantly creates that in their minds as well.
We do Singin’ in the rain, Make ‘em laugh, Moses Supposes, Fit as a fiddle, Beautiful girls, Good Mornin’, Gotta dance, we do all the hits.
What did Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys teach you after over 800 performances?
I went into Jersey Boys being able to sing and act but I came out of Jersey Boys knowing how to. I really learnt how to control my body. It is so athletic to do a show like that 6 days a week. It was so incredibly difficult, to be able to rise to that challenge and to get stronger and vocally fitter every single time was a real gift. It was something very clear in my mind, the challenge that I put on myself.
Working with Frankie Valli and talking about how to interpret songs and the work that he did whenever he had new songs, was so very special.
The writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice were so generous in everything they did in their research to put the show together, they were so generous in giving that to me and all of us. With the Director Des McAnuff, he was so gracious in allowing us to find our way, Jersey Boys is such a well-oiled machine.
Certainly, with my first leading role they gave me space to grow, and they loved my progress. So, I went in being able to do it, but I came out knowing how to.
What do you love about performing theatre in Australia and how was it being a part of an original Australian work like ‘Ladies in Black’?
It is incredible and quite a gift and an honour to be part of any Australian show. Australia is so far away from the rest of the world and theatrical landscape that when a production arrives in Australia, there are only a few shows that come every year. So, you really must bring the best of yourself to it. You need to bring your joy and love for performing every single time. When that starts to weigh in a bit as that fluctuates with people’s passion and their drive.
You have to take a step back and reevaluate yourself and make sure you are mentally healthy and you take care of that, and I enjoy the challenge of it. It is very exhausting, and you must focus on yourself as a person first and not as a performer. What’s great about doing a show in Australia is it means that pretty much the rest of the country auditioned for it too. You need to give it as much as you can in the audition.
Being part of something original like ‘Ladies in Black’ was so special. We opened it in Brisbane as part of Queensland Theatre. To watch the director, writer, arranger and choreographer put these things together on the spot and make the work come alive in front of us was an incredible ride because you have no idea whether it is going to work or not.
There were people from Queensland Theatre who joined us for a reading, and they loved it. We were so blown away and surprised. We got to our first audience, and they blew the roof off and they loved it so much, especially here in Brisbane. They felt like it was their show and really held on to it like it was something unique and personal.
The big learning curve for any wannabe creative is knowing to whom are you telling this story?
Congratulations on all your success, what is one of your proudest achievements and what are some of your future dreams?
One of my proudest achievements is something that happened a couple of weeks ago. I was part of a concert series called ‘Do you hear the people sing.’ I was asked to part of this concert series with Michael Ball, Michael Ball, John Owen-Jones, Rachel Tucker, David Harris, Sooha Kim, Suzie Mathers, and Marie Zamora. To be part of that was special because I had never performed their work before. Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, The Pirate Queen and Martin Guerre. I had never performed their material before or that style of music. I had two solos and a few group numbers as well.
The two original composers of Les Mis, lyricist Alain Boublil and composer Claude-Michel Schönberg were here in Australia for the whole thing. They came to rehearsal, were there for production and they walked out on stage every night with us at the end for the final bow.
Beyond that being super special, the reason why it was one of my proudest moments was because the lyricist Alain Boublil pulled me aside at the end and just told me how good of a job I did and how I made something very special and unique out of the work that I was given. He said that my songs were two of the hardest songs to perform because usually they are big group numbers, and I could only do it by myself as solos.
The lyricist Alain Boublil said it was remarkable the work that I did bringing the songs to life and keeping the audience for every single word, phrase and idea. For that to happen to me, but also in the Sydney Morning Herald the headline on the review was ‘Bobby Fox steals lavish Boublil and Schönberg concert.’
The pride in that is not necessarily the accolade but because I jumped into the deep end and I believed in myself and what came from it was an incredible response both from the audience, the reviewers but mainly from the writers. That was very very special, and I am super proud of that.
What can audiences look forward to when they come and see ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ in Concert at QPAC?
They can look forward to seeing a unique take on a timeless classic with every element presented to them in a unique and refreshing way and bathe in the beauty of the music, the arrangement, the adapted choreography and the wealth of Queensland talent that are part of this production. I am the only person in the show that is not from Queensland.
I think that Queenslanders can come and and celebrate the talent that Queensland has to offer because it is second to none.
Fame Reporter Word Play
Movie that would be an amazing musical
Own a house in Ireland
Favourite Dance move
Great sense of humour
Favourite mantra when you are down
This is symptomatic
Favourite Singin’ in the Rain song
Singin’ in the Rain
Savoury or Sweet
Hot Shoe Shuffle
The Irish Boy
Dressing Room necessity
A speaker and a Nespresso machine
Place you want to travel to
New York City
TV Show Binge
The Boys and Saturday Night Live
Finally, favourite thing about performing
The challenge to be free. It takes a lot of work to be free on stage and when you get to that place where you can be free, then that’s when the magic happens.
Thank-you Bobby for joining us at The Fame Reporter and we wish you all the best for Singin’ in the Rain in Concert at QPAC!
Concert Hall, QPAC
From 11 – 13 November 2022
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All photos and videos – Supplied