Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Adelaide Festival Theatre
Until 17 Jun 2018

Review by Brian Godfrey

Why would one of Australia’s most popular game show hosts, Andrew O’Keefe, want to perform a tribute to the King of Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll, Johnny O’Keefe? Well, there is a huge hint in the surname – that’s right, they are related, with Andrew being the late, great JOK’s nephew. Another reason is that before Andrew was offering people suitcases or chasing them with multiple choice questions, he himself was a stage entertainer.

AOK lovingly refers to JOK as his ‘Uncle John’ right from the start, after getting the audience in the mood with a high energy version of “Wild One”. Andrew was only eight when Johnny died, and it wasn’t until then that he realized how important the man had been in making Australian music sing to the world. He had always been the slightly eccentric favourite uncle who took time to listen to the youngsters in the family and show an interest in their lives.

It is this introduction to the man behind the legend that eases us into a no-holds barred account of his uncle’s life. It’s all there with O’Keefe leaving absolutely nothing out, from the highest of successes to the lowest depths of despair. Incidents are covered in this show that never made it to the stage musical or television mini-series of JOK’s life.

But all his hits are: “She’s So Tough”, “She Wears My Ring”, “She’s My Baby”, “Move, Baby, Move” and many, many more; all cleverly inter-woven into JOK’s life story.

Does Andrew sing like Johnny? Not quite, but there is more than a passing resemblance in his voice (and, at times, eerily in his appearance) and a definite love for the man and his work. AOK cracked a few high notes during “I’m Counting On You” but his lovable, cheeky self and self-deprecating humour made us forgive him.

All in all, this was a tribute show that made you want to “SHOUT” with joy at the talent and personality of both O’Keefes.