Mar 14, 2023 - Things to Do

Review: "Cowboy Bob" at the Alley Theatre

Photo of a woman on stage, wearing a cowboy hat in drag as a man.

Photo: Lynn Lane/courtesy of Alley Theatre

Rodeo season has spread into the arts with the Alley Theatre's production of "Cowboy Bob."

Driving the play: The musical follows two characters' journeys: one based on the true story of the infamous Cowboy Bob and the other of a waitress who served Cowboy Bob. Both characters, stuck in low-paying and unfulfilling jobs, have followed the rules for most of their lives but want more.

  • Peggy Jo (aka Cowboy Bob) dons a fake mustache, sunglasses and a 10-gallon hat and becomes a bank robber, while waitress Rena sees how many moral boundaries she feels comfortable crossing.

Details: This is the first time "Cowboy Bob" has seen the stage. It was created by Galveston-native Molly Beach Murphy and her friends, Jeanna Phillips and Annie Tippe, who all became enthralled by Cowboy Bob's legend.

If you go: The play runs through March 26. Tickets start at $26.

💭 My thought bubble: While I enjoyed the themes the musical tried to play with, "Cowboy Bob" crammed a lot in an hour and 45 minutes. Perhaps too much.

  • The show became more about Rena and the side characters than Cowboy Bob herself, which would be fine if it didn't feel too jumbled.
  • I also found the "Jeopardy" scene unnecessary and the depiction of Stan — Peggy Jo's friend and one of the only Black characters — to be flat and a caricature of how Black fat men are often portrayed in comedy. (The word "fat" is being used as a neutral descriptor.)
  • Yes, but: I watched the play during previews, so hopefully Stan's depiction has changed.

The bottom line: "Cowboy Bob" is festive and interesting but needs improvements if it's going to be produced again for a non-Texan audience that won't overlook its flaws for its local ties.


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