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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Review: Cobb and Co.'s Robin Hood: The Musical

Remember a year ago, when I drove eight hours to see a play produced by Cobb & Co.?

1558458116 20190420 130059Well I did it again. And it was just as glorious as I remember.

It wasn't the same play. They rotate their offerings a truly impressive amount for a theater company that centers on original productions. Also, I made it to the first week of showings, which means you might well be reading this in time to go see the same show I did, with the same delightful cast.

If so, I truly hope you do. This company's work is too special not to share with everyone you know.

If you do go, here are some things you can expect.

This Robin Hood, played by John Cobb, is a bit more nuanced than your average fare. He's easily the most compelling Robin I've seen. I dare say we've seen Robin Hood as a reluctant hero, but I've never felt that struggle quite this poignantly. John plays Robin more like a Prince Hamlet, with fascinating vacillations that aren't just played up for drama. They make sense, and they follow naturally from Robin's first scene and his first song, "How Can a Fella Get Ahead in Life." And yet for all that, the vacillations and uncertainty wouldn't have worked nearly as well without the rock steady influence of Little John.

This Little John stands out as one my favorite parts of the experience. If I could sum up Jade Higley's performance of Little John in one word, it would be "presence." Wherever he's standing is the center of the stage, and the rest of the cast, dressing, and props all lean toward him as if drawn by gravity. Even at his most quiet and self-assured, you can sense power behind every move he makes. And when he finally does let loose and roar, you might well experience the same goosebumps I did. Or maybe you'll run and hide. I won't be surprised either way.

I won't spend too much more time calling out individual performances, except to add that Michelle Adams's Maid Marian was warm and clever, had the best singing voice on the stage, and her chemistry with Roslyn, played by Hannah Cobb, was nothing short of delightful. Michelle could have carried the play on her own merit, and though she had as much stage time as most other characters, I wanted more. I still want more.

Also, Christian Hansen's Constable stole the show. Because of course he did.

The choreography was fun and fluid, easy to follow, yet still inventive and full of surprises. Little John's quick foot jab at the beginning of the play shows up again at the climax without fanfare, but to great effect. Bows, swords, and quarterstaves find their way seamlessly into both dramatic action sequences and comedic slapstick. And what about the archery, you might ask? Well there's no arrows in those stage bows of course, but they still pull off a few classic Robin Hood trick shots. This is a Robin Hood story after all.

The performances will keep you glued to your seats, but it's Cobb & Co's music that keeps people coming back, and Robin Hood was no exception. The audience clapped along through a number of merry ditties, and the standout pieces had to be songs like the previously mentioned "How Can a Fella Get Ahead in Life," the hilarious "Naughty Sheriff of Nottingham" (that pun has three layers; can you find them all?), and the one that turned Sherwood Forest into its own character, simply named "Sherwood." The lyrics tend to either be fun and whimsical or sweet and thoughtful, but they excel in both categories. In fact, I still have a couple tunes stuck in my head a week later.

Tickets are just ten dollars, but you can do better. They accept donations on Patreon now too, or if you just want a few snacks to keep you company in the theater seats, concessions are always a great way to support a theatrical company. Either way, please go check them out and then let me know what you thought!

Look for times and dates of performances, as well as info about future productions, here:

http://www.cobbcotheaterproductions.com/