Saturday 17 March 2018

Real life Irish butler lands stage role of butler in Batman

John Conroy, a real-life butler has landed the role of Batman's trusted aide in show touring the world
John Conroy, a real-life butler has landed the role of Batman's trusted aide in show touring the world
Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

A real-life butler has landed the role of Batman's trusted aide in an arena show touring the world.

Dublin-born actor John Conroy said he needed little training for his latest character after 20 years of waiting on bankers in London.

The 61-year-old won the part of butler Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Live, a spectacular production bringing the crime-fighter and his enemies to life in Dublin and Belfast.

Mr Conroy said he can't wait to take to the 100ft stage in the O2 at the end of the month, where he last performed in 2005 as Peadar Cassidy in The Ha'penny Bridge.

"It was a great experience to play The Point and it will be great to go back," he said.

"We just hope it does the business it deserves because it's huge, it's immense, it's very spectacular and kids love it."

The actor revealed he auditioned for Alfred suited and booted for his second job.

"They sort of went 'you didn't have to dress' and I said 'no, honestly, this is what I do,'," he said.

"Butlering is not a problem to me. I've done it for 20 years in banks and financial institutions in the City of London ... very high powered executive lunches where, if you ask them what they had for lunch, they couldn't tell you because it was all about the deal.

"You hear things about shares and about foreign things going on which you must not divulge."

Mr Conroy went to school in Willow Park, Blackrock, and Gormanston College boarding school in Co Meath.

A member of Rathmines and Rathgar Musical Society, he worked as the western reporter on Theatre Nights on RTE and sang with the RTE orchestra in the National Concert Hall.

He moved to the UK in his 20s where he took several theatre and television roles, most recently as Arvide in the West End musical Guys And Dolls.

The actor is contracted for Batman`s European tour, and hopes to secure the role when it goes to the US.

"I don't want to ever butler again," he added.

Executive producer Nick Grace, whose late father Nick came from Richmond Road in Dublin, said he was looking forward to the reaction of the Irish audience to the 100ft video screen, circus-trained acrobats and a Batmobile designed by Gordon Murray.

"I keep telling the cast they will get a fantastic reaction in Dublin," he said.

"I've taken Mamma Mia around the world to 26 countries over the last seven years and I still enjoy the Dublin audience the most.

"It's just an honest audience who are coming out for a good night out and if they like it they tell you."

Batman Live will be at the O2 in Dublin from Wednesday September 28 for four days and the Odyssey in Belfast a week later.

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