A SINGER who has become an international star of the folk scene is preparing to appear in a West End show.
Bob Fox will spend a year performing the part of Song Man in the Tony Award-winning War Horse and then hopes to join the production on a tour abroad.
Steven Spielberg has turned the tale into a film, which is likely to put the play, staged at the New London Theatre in Covent Garden, into the limelight further still.
The Song Man character is billed as the third principal part and acts as a narrator who appears as a “spirit” who begins reading the book and takes the audience through the story.
He will provide the voice and music to the story of how the young owner of a horse tries to track down his equine companion after the animal is sold to the cavalry by his father and shipped to France at the outbreak of World War One.
Bob will take over the part from Saul Rose on November 16.
The play has been adapted from a children’s story written by Michael Morpurgo.
Bob, who was once resident at Washington’s Davy Lamp Folk Club and a regular at the Dun Cow Folk Club in Seaton, was sought for the job by John Tams.
John, who wrote the songs for War Horse, had previously worked with Bob on the Radio Ballards, which was aired on Radio Two.
Married father-of-two Bob, who is from Seaham and now lives in Chester-le-Street, said: “I’ve been in London for the past couple of weeks since rehearsals started for a cast change on November 16.
“My friends and family are delighted.
“I’ve spent 35 years singing, learning the skills and all about the British traditions of this style of singing and now I’m putting them all in to this part.”
He is returning home as often as he can to see his family and has found a flat after being put up for his first week in the capital by Philip Reay, his fellow classmate during their Northlea Grammar Technical School days.
The 58-year-old is learning to play melodeon – a small accordion – and a Devonshire accent for the part to add to his repertoire of guitar and keyboard playing.
He hopes the tour will take him to Australia, where he has gigged several times before.
Eric Freedman, who runs the Davy Lamp Folk Club, said: “Everybody at the club is pleased for him. I’m sure he will rise to the occasion.
“It’s a big challenge, but John Tams has got the right man.”
Bob has had to cancel about 35 dates to clear his diary for the run, but has still managed to keep some of the Pitman Poets shows.