Scott Robbins and the travelling show – Production Review

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In our recent review of the interactive AION (which is available at https://rhysreviews.com/2022/11/10/aion-experience-review/) we discussed how during lockdown we all did some strange things to help past the time. While a lot of the lockdown was spent with me gluing together random household items for a unique fancy dress theme or taking in part in a series of zoom quizzes , we did manage to really focus on our blog and what it was we wanted it to do. Over the lockdown period we began to develop a regular schedule of promoting new and emerging musical recordings from all over the world which not only helped to get us up-to-date with contemporary musical theatre but also meant we could start building a network of supports from all corners of the globe!Despite working hard and constant connection building for around two years we did recently lose the community of followers we had built up during lockdown and so it would mean a lot if people could drop our Facebook page a follow at https://www.facebook.com/RhysReviewsoffical

Scott Robins and the travelling show is a brand new musical that comes from the brilliant mind of Tyler Tafola who we were lucky enough to sit down and interview for our YouTube channel which is available at https://youtube.com/channel/UCHSoxy7Iw6ru0P6mUFOr2iw We talked about his journey into musical theatre and most importantly what was at the time his latest musical theatre project ‘Seasons: A new song cycle’ which told the story of a group of people as they navigate life’s adventures. If you want to read more about Seasons you can do so at https://rhysreviews.com/2020/11/30/seasons-soundtrack-review/Having experienced Tyler’s wonderfull creativity through this original show , we were very excited when it was announced that he would be producing another piece of theatre which would be available totally free of cost on YouTube! Scott Robbins and the traveling show tells the story of a rather sketchy indvgual (aptly names Scott Robbins) who is infamous for his street wise scams and fake performances. Due to his criminal activity , he is constantly on the run from the police but finds himself as the headline act of travelling circus despite having no actual magic experience. Having done a little bit of stage management (especially for shows such as the super spooky spectacle Carrie which had floating objects throughout) I know that on-stage magic can be very difficult to perform and get perfect but Tyler and his team have clearly creating a way around this unnecessary stress! There was a series of purposefully obvious tricks that subverted the polished idea magic has become associated with. Not only was this hilarious at times but also made complete sense narratively as the character Scot Robins was scamming people and had no experience in complex magic performances and so would not be able to focussed and keen audience members. I have to admit that at first I didn’t enjoy the idea of the birds being played by two pieces of tissues that would be flapped across the stage by an assisting ensemble member but after a while it grew on me and contributed to many hilarious moments throughout!

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Having fairly limited experience in the production of tv or theatre (with one of my greatest boasts being I appeared as an extra during sex education season two!), I am aware that production staff and talent are very frequently separated as they often have two very different roles and responsibilities to uphold. However within this production Tyler crosses the imaginary line as both the writer/creator of the show and also a altering member of the cast. I can’t imagine to constant anxiety associated with crafting a fictional story, location, characters and then having to perform it yourself by Tyler does not seem fazed at all throughout this performance. This is clearly a fundamental aspect as the show as every other performer in this production plus a plethora of different characters and in fact spend the majority of time sat on the stage watching the action unfold. The ability of the ensemble to switch characters (as times literally on the drop of a hat) is a feat of pure acting talent that I personally don’t think I would ever be able to do! On top of rapid character changes and musical numbers there is even a point in the show where Scott and uncle Arty pulled out a guitar and violin respectively to accompany one of the more emotional moments in the show. As the titular character in the show Tyler (as Scott Robbins) had numerous opportunity to showcase his vocal abilities especially during the primal iteration of “Better than me” which was an extremely powerful song that explain the tragic background Scott had to endure in order to get where he is today. The first song does build up to a much more empowering message as our lead character talks about his dream of touring the world which reminds everyone to consider people’s background before judging them! We also see Tyler busy out an extremely rapid spoken word section during the song “The Great Scott Robbins pt 1” which is a performed rogue trying to conscience everyone he is in fact a international magician. Being able to deliver all the lyrics of the number at the speed at which they were performed was incredible to watch and helped bring a slightly different energetic into the musical itself. I throughly enjoyed the choreograph of this number as it involved style acting like a stereotypical street performer by running around the space trying to build up excitement for him and his show.

The role of Scott’s close friend Arty was a incredibly energetic actor who was clearly aware of classical clowning characteristics as his performance was sprinkled with many physical comedy moments throughout. My favourite number in the entire production would have to be “oh Nelly” which was a comedic number between Arty and Scott that contained tap sections , old fashioned cans and a series of classically theatrical dance moves that had every howling with laughter. The two performers clearly have wonderfully on and off-stage chemistry and worked together flawlessly to deliver this very energetic and over-the-top performance. I throughly enjoyed the role of Barnaby (played by Shaun Code) who was a jealous performer who previously held the headline act before Scott suddenly arrived on the scene. This role can only be described as an extremely flamboyant Dracula crossed with the classic panto-esque villain who is not overwhelming for young audience members but still scary enough to be seen as a bad guy. There is one point in the production where this character sings a song titled “back on top” whilst bathed in blood-red stage lights , which talks about his wicked plan to regain his position of the top of any line-up!

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Overall , Scott Robbins and the travelling show is an extremely clever piece of theatre that has carefully considered the role of the audience and the limitations of stage magic to create a wonderfully fun theatre experience. The talent on display by both Tyler (as the lead character) and the rest of the cast is immense as they regularly switch between distinctive characters with ease always ensuring each character is recognisable and different. I would rate this production 4 out of 5 stars and recommend every check the show out FOR FREE at https://youtu.be/GNywRt1WPiY

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