Veteran actor Robert Neary is the latest example of someone who took advantage of the lockdown during the pandemic to find a new creative outlet. He didn’t learn to bake bread or build model cars. Neary put together a tribute to one of the most successful recording artists in history with “So Good! The Neil Diamond Experience.”
“The acting shifted. I had been successful for a number of years but in the last five years it shifted differently,” Neary says. “I found myself waiting for auditions.
“I had a conversation with myself and my wife and said I need to reinvent myself.”
His reinvention will be on display at the Fox Theater on Oct. 22. Tickets are still available for the performance.
Broadway, television and film star Robert Neary’s iconic tribute to one of the greatest and most successful recording artists in history, “So Good! The Neil Diamond Experience,”comes to The Historic Fox Theater on Sunday, October 22nd.
Neary has not heard directly from Diamond but through a mutual friend who knows Diamond’s wife, he was told that the singer loves tribute shows.
The tribute features Neary telling stories behind some of Diamond’s classic songs. He is quick to stress that one of the stipulations about being able to do the tribute show was that Neary cannot do anything that would attempt to make the audience think it is the real Neil Diamond. Instead of saying “when I wrote this song” he will say “when Neil wrote this song.”
The bulk of the show is his performance of 22 of Diamond’s greatest hits including “Cherry Cherry”, “I’m a Believer,” “Solitary Man,” “Holly Holy,” “Coming to America” and “Sweet Caroline.” He is backed by The Mystic.
“I started with me picking up my guitar and recording myself on the phone to see how much of him I still have. I have not sung his music in a long time,” Neary says. “COVID hit so we just started rehearsing it.”
The Long Island native grew up listening to and mimicking Diamond and Elvis Presley – his two favorite artists in the world. He recalls auditioning for his high school’s production of “Hair” with a performance of Diamond’s “September Morn.”
At the urging of his brother, Neary has been performing his tribute to Neil Diamond for three years. He calls the production a continuing work in progress as he recently put together a slideshow to go along with his performance.
His long hours listening to the award-winning singer’s music and studying Diamond have been Neary’s determined way to create the most realistic tribute possible. Despite being labeled a tribute show, Neary often has been told how much the show felt like the real thing.
It was Neary’s voice that made the show that was the key to the experience. Diamond has a very distinct low voice that is very close to Neary’s voice. He points out that when he does voiceover work, he is often asked to speak in his deepest tones.
His experience on Broadway helped Neary put together the stage production. One of his major stage roles was as the understudy to the lead role of Sonny, in the Broadway production of “A Bronx Tale, The Musical.”
He has also amassed a long list of television and film credits starting with “Fame,” and then opposite Jason Bateman in the film “Teen Wolf Too.” Other credits include “Criminal Minds,” “Sons of Anarchy,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Blue Bloods,” “The Fosters,” “FBI: Most Wanted” and “NCIS: New Orleans”.
After a two-year stint on “General Hospital,” as Officer Frank Marino, Robert moved to Nashville to pursue Contemporary Gospel music. He recorded two solo projects, before going back to Los Angeles.
Neary has not given up acting but the pandemic gave him the chance to put together the kind of tribute show he had always wanted to do using Diamond’s music. The long list of numbers Neary performs is only a small portion of Diamond’s discography.
If he had the chance to talk with Diamond, Neary knows exactly which song he would love to discuss with the singer.
“Definitely ‘I Am … I Said’ because there is a great story behind that. I have read the articles and his biography about how that song came to be,” Neary says. “He went through a very long depressive state.
“It is his most personal song and it took him four months to write the whole thing. I speak about it in the show leading up to the song. I would just like to ask him ‘What were you going through?’”
The Fox Theater is located at 2001 H Street.