Presented by Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed 14 June 2019
I confess I never saw Bobby Fox in his name-making Jersey Boys stint, nor in his subsequent Four Seasons in One Night cabaret, but I’d heard good things and as someone who shares his Irish heritage, I was excited for this new show. I wasn’t disappointed.
From the opening number, the audience is immersed in the sheer joy of all things Irish: the music, the dance, the stories of Fox’s childhood and early career. His pride for his heritage is palpable, his talent abundant. In the delightful intimacy of the Dunstan Playhouse, kilt clad Fox and his outstanding 5-piece band are successful in transporting us to the land of Guinness and Leprechauns. On opening night, it was apparent from the outset that everyone on stage and off, was there for the craic.
In An Irish Boy, Fox combines traditional and modern Irish music with dance and storytelling to create a charming, humorous, heart-warming show. Prior to his time in musical theatre, Bobby Fox was a traditional musician and Irish Dancer who kicked up his heels with global toe-tapping phenomenon Riverdance. Fox recalls his early dancing days with genuine fondness and so vivid are the recollections of his traditional Irish home and family that there was scarcely a dry eye among the expats and even a shouted ‘God Bless You’ or two from an audience that hung on his every word. This lad can sing, raw emotion oozes from him in renditions of classic ballads such as Danny Boy and Red is the Rose. He can hardly contain himself in the lively numbers and those dancing feet get a full workout when he shows us just a little of the fancy footwork that led to him being a four-time world champion Irish dancer. But his talents go further, and we are also witness to his skills as a musician, specifically on guitar and, fittingly, a button accordion.
Fox is a natural and prolific storyteller. In this performance I felt that we only touched on the stories that bound together the wonderful array of songs. However, this 70-minute Cabaret Festival version of the show is at least 30 minutes less than that of the premiere presented in Sydney – I for one would like to have seen the rest!
An Irish Boy exudes pleasure, and despite this reviewer nursing a heavy cold, I couldn’t fail to leave with a smile on my face. Bobby, go raibh maith agat!
Reviewed by Trish Francis
Rating out of 5: 4.5