Over the past 15 years, Bobby Fox has more than made his mark in professional musical theatre in Australia. He’s chalked up a mass of credits, including Mamma Mia, Leader of the Pack, Dusty – The Original Pop Diva, We Will Rock You, Guys and Dolls, and Blood Brothers. Fox was handpicked by Frankie Valli to play the legendary Four Seasons’ lead singer in the Helpmann Award-winning Australian premiere of Jersey Boys. Earlier this year, Fox was travelling the country in the cast of another Helpmann Award-winning show, the Carolyn Burns and Tim Finn-penned Ladies in Black.
And from Friday, Sydney audiences have the chance to see Fox on stage once again as he takes on his next role, this time at the Hayes Theatre in Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning Assassins. Originally performed off-Broadway in 1990, the show takes place in a fairground shooting gallery and focuses on nine men and women, all of whom set out to solve their problems by attempting to assassinate presidents of the United States (four of them ultimately succeed in doing so).
So, what does Fox have to say about his character, Charles Guiteau, a lawyer who assassinated President James Garfield in 1881?
“I’m not sure that he can be described,” Fox tells Theatre People. “Some might say that he is a man with little means who achieved many things. Others might say he’s a deranged egotist that would do anything for the limelight. You need to see him to have an opinion on him – good or bad.”
Fox says that before signing on to take part in this production, Assassins was not a show with which he was familiar.
“I hadn’t heard a single word of it,” he says. “I got a message from [executive producer] Lisa Campbell about playing a character in one of her shows and I was in.”
Assassins is the first piece by Stephen Sondheim to be performed at the Hayes Theatre since it opened three-and-a-half years ago. Is Sondheim a composer whose work Fox would like to see more of on our stages?
“Oh absolutely,” he says. “His work is so beautifully complex yet when delivered and thought out, well it feels so simple and full of flow.”
And is there a specific Sondheim show Fox would jump at the chance to be part of?
“I guess I’d have to give the roll of Bobby from Company a crack – for obvious reasons.”
Assassins brings together a cast and creative team overflowing with top talent, and it’s giving Fox the opportunity to work alongside several people with whom he’s wanted to work for some time.
“I have wanted to work with Dean Bryant now for a long time,” he says. “Of course, I’m a huge fan of David Campbell and Hannah Fredericksen, so getting to see their process is cool. I also am a huge admirer of Martin Crewes and Connor Crawford. They are some of the finest performers we have here in Australia. Actually, come to think of it, this entire cast and creative team is exceptional.”
Fox discusses the enduring relevance of Assassins to contemporary audiences.
“Stupidity and rage is timeless,” he says. “What I find fascinating is the lack of understanding of that. We are all caught up in our own worlds all the time that we rarely look at what and where we come from – I am very much included in the ‘we’ here. Everyone thinks they are right. That’s the joy of being an actor with all this wonderful material.”
And what does he think is the main message of Assassins? Fox quotes American theatre producer André Bishop, who once said: “One has a sense of an America whose extraordinary freedom has created a land where accidents of all kinds can happen. Any kid can grow up to be president; any kid can grow up to be his killer.”
ASSASSINS – SEASON DETAILS
Venue: Hayes Theatre Co (19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point)
Season: From September 15
Times: Mon 6:30pm, Tue-Sat 7.30pm, Wed & Sat 2pm
Run Time: Approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes (no interval)
Patrons’ Advice: Recommended for audience members 15 years and older
Bookings: www.hayestheatre.com.au | (02) 8065 7337