Theater Review: I ♥ Bob

After accidentally but  understandably arriving at the Joyce Theater in Chelsea, Lily Lewis (SIP ’12) and I raced downtown to the Joyce SoHo to catch Ray Hesselink’s new tap show, “I ♥ Bob.”  The outside of the correct theater was unimposing – sort of like a chic garage.  We entered the theater huffing and puffing, having sprinted over from the subway stop.  We had no ticket, and merely had to give our name to the check-in table in exchange for a program (we had purchased our tickets online a few days in advance).  The theater itself was not the elaborate Broadway theater I was expecting, but rather a tiny black box with maybe fifty chairs on ascending risers from the ground-level stage.

“This live-action cartoon, directed by Mark Lonergan and choreographed by Ray Hesselink to music by Wayne Barker, pulls together the Parallel Exit signatures (tap and other dancing; grunts, coos, shrieks and other nonverbal sounds; puppetry; tirelessly inventive physical humor) to create a kind of exuberant ensemble vaudeville. The movement doesn’t let up, but the tempo is playful and breezy, and the performers make it look easy.” – Andy Webster (NY Times)

“I ♥ Bob” is essentially a dance narrative (dancing that tells a story) that includes voice overs, pantomime, puppetry, tap, and physical comedy.  The story obviously surrounds Bob and his extraordinary adventures as an ordinary guy.  Bob works as a “FedUp” delivery man but goes about his everydays trying (rather unsuccessfully) to save the world – walking an elderly woman across the street, saving a cat from a tree…you get the picture.  Besides loving Bob from the start, the audience also immediately falls in love with Vera, a buck-toothed plain Jane who dreams of finding her Prince Charming and living “happily ever after.”  Chaos (beyond the normal chaos of Manhattan) ensues with a rivalry between multigazillionaire Libby T. Grump (think Cruella de Vil + Donald Trump) and self-help schmuck Dwight Williams to chisel their face on the Statue of Liberty.  But don’t worry!  By the end of the show our lovebirds meet, Lady Liberty’s face remains intact, and the cast breaks out into a tap dancing finale – what could be better?