Robin Hood is a hunk with a voice
Rosanna Rothery meets the arrow-shooting, tight-wearing hero of this year's panto, Robin Hood.
HE'S the suitor from Sherwood specialising in sweep-you-off-your-feet gestures to get Maid Marian (and hopefully teenage girls in the audience) swooning this Christmas.
No doubt a spot of modelling for Toni and Guy has prepared Aston Dobson to launch a thousand sighs from girls this panto season as he struts out as heroic hunk, Robin Hood.
"I guess the modelling helps the Prince Charming thing," says the singer and actor, who has been cast as the swaggering suitor in six previous pantos.
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"Robin Hood is a little bit self absorbed, a little bit confident," he laughs. "But he's got his soft side: he does what he needs to do to rob from the rich and help the poor. He's a loveable character I think."
Singing in the classical boy band, The Twelve Tenors, must also be good training ground for getting teen girls' knees to tremble. Aston has travelled all over the world showcasing his rock opera style vocals.
"It's a really interesting group," he says. "You see the poster and the song list and you think it could be quite serious but there's a lot of fun it and there are some jokes and we do a bit of a dance routine and have a laugh."
Now I for one, am reassured to know we have an outlaw with opera lungs to lead the Merry Men. What's more Aston promises to sing the Robin Hood romantic classic, Everything I Do, I Do It For You, from the film soundtrack.
Such superb singing talents were honed in his youth in melodic rock band, Token Of My Affection, who got to support the likes of Biffy Clyro and Snow Patrol.
He bursts into a peal of down-to-earth laughter as he recalls the band's name: "Back in the day we thought it was cool, perhaps not anymore. That's proper cringeworthy, that is."
However, it was only after entering a local singing competition in his parents' home town of Lincoln that his career shot off in a completely different direction. One of the judges on the X-Factor style panel was a theatrical agent who snapped him up. Four weeks later, despite no formal singing training, he was touring in Fame.
His voice seems to have garnered him plenty of fans – some of them are even taking the trip to see him in this year's panto. These include his girlfriend Kayleigh Ross's relations, who live in Barnstaple.
"My partner's family are going to be in watching the show, plus there is going to be a bus load from Lincoln coming and there is talk on Facebook of people coming from London."
Apparently, a group of folk who saw him in panto last year have messaged him to say they are going to take a trip down to Barnstaple to watch him again.
Aston admits he's a big fan of the festive season.
"I'm 27 and this will be the first Christmas day I've not been with my mum and dad. I know, it's tragic," he laughs.
"Wherever I am in the world I always manage to make it home for Christmas Day but this year, it seemed, with them being so far up it made no sense to go home."
He describes himself as "a big family man".
"I don't care how cheesy it sounds. Because of the life I lead and never really seeing friends and family as much as I'd like, I look forward to Christmas every year."
You could say it was a well-chosen Christmas present that became the catalyst for his future musical career.
"As a child all my family went to Kent to my nan and grandad's house and I thought I'd had all my Christmas presents that morning before I left. When I got there, though, they had bought me a Casio keyboard. It my first keyboard and that was the best Christmas ever."
Aston learned to play said keyboards and the rest is history. On balance, though, I think he would prefer to gloss over his nan's other legendary present. When he was 12 or 13 years she bought him a sky-blue ring binder that had all the members of Take That pictures on the front.
"I remember disliking it but, for whatever reason, I used it at school which was obviously a bit of mistake for a young lad at the time being seen with a Take That ring binder," he laughs.
Aston seems to be relishing the idea of playing Robin, the rebel with a good cause:
"It's going to be amazing. It's going to be an absolute laugh. Playing Robin Hood I get to play and prat around with a group of lads and the chemistry between us is already proving to be great."
And yes, he reassures, he has been honing his bow and arrow skills.
"I've been practising. My girlfriend's had the apple on her head a few times."
Robin Hood is at the Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple from Saturday, December 15 to Saturday, January 5. Tickets between £10 and £19. Box office: 01271 324242.