Every time Marc Robin jumps into another directing and/or choreographing project, he encapsulates his vision of the show in one word. His smash hit, All Night Strut, at Drury Lane Evergreen Park--where he has served as artistic director for the past four years--burst with "exuberance." For Strike Up the Band, the critically lauded debut of the Auditorium Theatre's Ovations series--concert celebrations of great American musicals--he wove an understated tapestry of "elegance." His choreography for Chicago Shakespeare Theatre's fantastical production of A Midsummer Night's Dream soared with "eclecticism."
But apart from favoring adjectives beginning with "e," Robin has a talent for wrapping a musical in a single mood--and for keeping audiences entertained. His attachment to those mid-20th century, heavenly-hoofer musicals is transmitted through his every nerve-ending and even across the cellular landscape.
"I love my job!" enthuses Robin as he chats into his cell phone while driving home from rehearsals for The Pirates of Penzance, his latest effort. "I live to go to rehearsal. I get to work with the neatest, funniest people. Thank God I don't have to sit behind a desk all day. I mean, think about it. What did I do today? I worked on scenes with two of the most hilarious actors in Chicago: Alene Robertson and Don Forston. We laughed for two hours, and I got paid for it!"
But Robin, one of Chicago's most omnipresent theater artists, does not necessarily guffaw all day long. He's known to pour tremendous amounts of thought, energy, freshness, and meticulous detail into his shows, from Drury Lane Evergreen Park, where he began directing and choreographing 10 years ago, to Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Marriott, and the Auditorium and Shubert Theatres.
Not surprisingly, Robin is also known for the overflowing platter of theater commitments he tends to keep all at once. For example, aside from directing The Pirates of Penzance, Robin is also artistic director of the Ovations series whose next concert, the 1943 musical One Touch of Venus (directed by Gary Griffin, another ubiquitous Chicago artist and frequent Robin collaborator), opens April 6. Robin will then direct Ovations' May staging of Babes in Arms, choreograph the much-anticipated Side Show at Northlight Theatre and direct Do Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? at Drury Lane Evergreen Park, where he has also penned most of their children's shows.
And to fill up his spare time, Robin has been hired by Stadivarius Productions in London to write book, music and lyrics for a show for young audiences as yet untitled, and we can't forget that Robin teaches musical theater at Northwestern University in Evanston. Every now and then Robin makes it on stage as well, such as in 1998 when he played The Scarecrow in Marriott's inventive staging of The Wizard of Oz.
So...has Robin taken some courses in time management or is he naturally adept at omni-tasking?