Show that is ‘so good, so good’ coming to Murphy


WILMINGTON — The Neil Diamond Concert Experience is coming to the Murphy Theatre Wednesday, Aug. 19.

With his powerful presence, from the moment he struts on stage wearing trademark black, gray, and silver sequined jacket, Robert Neary, uncannily, resembles Neil Diamond at the height of his touring career in the 1990s and 2000s. His wit and mannerisms on stage is spot on, especially when he plays his guitar.

When he speaks and tells the stories and trivia behind some of Diamond’s most popular songs, his rich baritone gravelly voice can easily be mistaken for Diamond’s own speaking voice. But make no mistake about it at all, if you close your eyes and listen to him sing any of the 22 classic Diamond songs with the magnificent band behind him, you will swear you are listening to the master himself.

When asked about how he got his start in the business and how early did he know he wanted to be a star, Neary starts his story by saying, “My favorite number is 16. Because ever since I can remember. I always wanted to be an actor and shine on the screen and on TV. And I believed that by the time I was 16 years old. I would be one of the most wanted actors in Hollywood.”

Unfortunately, the chance didn’t come until he was 20 years old when he finally made the move from Long Island, New York to Hollywood, on Memorial Day weekend in 1985. Neary got an agent within the first six months of moving out, and within a year he guest starred on two TV shows. The following summer, he co-starred opposite Jason Bateman in the movie, “Teen Wolf Too.”

“I thought this was it. Just two years in Hollywood and this movie is gonna launch me,” he said.

Not so fast.

The movie bombed and Neary was back auditioning and began bartending to pay the rent. A few more guest starring roles and some national commercials lead to a year on the Soap Opera, “General Hospital.”

“OK, this is gonna lead to a contract role and I’ll make a nice mark in television,” he thought. But, alas, the part he played was Frisco Jones’ (Jack Wagner) police partner, and Wagner soon left the show and Neary’s story line never evolved. In 1991, auditions were running thin, due to the threat of an actor’s strike, so he starting looking elsewhere for work. He was asked to join the New Chippendales touring show in Europe.

“It had become the most popular show in Europe, and featured Broadway caliber singing and dancing, and of course, stripping,” Neary said. “We played to sold out 2,000 and 3,000 seat venues. There was even a main show that sat on London’s West End.”

When he came back to Hollywood a year later, he decided he wanted to pursue his singing career and then came a chance at Broadway.

“I never thought that I’d be going back to NY, especially to star in a Broadway show,” Neary said. “I started on the stage doing musicals in high school and a couple of local shows, but I didn’t really have the urge to pursue it.”

He was the first replacement for one of the leads in Smokey Joe’s Cafe.

“The audition was Heaven sent. I grew up listening and singing Elvis and when I went in, the casting director asked me if I knew Jailhouse Rock. Jokingly I said, backwards or forwards. He laughed. I sang it, and I never looked back. After five call backs, I got the part,” Neary said.

Fast forward to summer 2019.

“I was on a cruise with my family, and I read an article online about a new bio musical being put together based on the life of Neil Diamond,” Neary said. “I said to my wife, this is it. I know no one can sound as close to Neil Diamond as me.” He started practicing every day, and began pursuing his agent and the producers of the show for the possibility of getting seen for the role.

But while at a family get together, a month later, his older brother encouraged him, “You know I saw a Neil Diamond tribute show in San Diego. The place was packed, and you sound so much more like him. Why don’t you just put together your own Tribute show?”

This got the wheels spinning and the rest is now history still being written.

Neary has performed So Good! The Neil Diamond Experience in more than 40 venues up and down the east coast and on more than 30 cruise ships all over the world. He is now at the beginning of 40 city 10 month tour that will take him across the US and several of those shows, are being promoted by Live Nation, the biggest concert promoters in the country.

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