- New York Critic
Russia, Mueller, Syria, War, The Wall, Elections, Stormy, Stock Market, Tax Cuts, Scandal, Tariffs, DACA, Immigration and Tweets, are a few current headlines monopolizing the news, infecting and affecting our everyday lives. How can we avoid the negative socio-political environment and get away from it all? The answer may be easier and closer than you think. “Escape to Margaritaville” may just be the ticket to remedy the effects of the constant cynical behavioral bombs that seem to be dropped on us every day by those lofty politicians. Arrive early to take your seat, sip on a frozen Margarita from the bar to begin your attitude adjustment, then just slip away for two and a half hours to the carefree island of laid-back music composed by Jimmy Buffett and brought to you by a cast of vocal powerhouses. If you are looking for intellectual stimulation you are in the wrong place for this is a journey filled with senseless situations, silly dialogue and storybook romance, all connected by the lyrics that serve this perpetual beach party. To put it simply, it writes a new amendment, the “Freedom of Fun.”
“Escape to Margaritaville” is a jukebox musical featuring the music and lyrics of Jimmy Buffett, but the twist comes when the book by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley is written solely to serve as a connector between the lyrics and the contemporaneous situations, weaving together an old-fashioned, frivolous, romantic musical comedy. The energetic ensemble is put to task by choreographer Kelly Devine, who supports director Christopher Ashley in maintaining a fast pace to keep the party going. No need to dissect the simple plot that makes sense, appropriately, with a beginning, middle and happily ever after ending that is a winning formula for musical comedy.
The cast is overqualified for the material, but an absolute pleasure to hear and watch as they fill the theater with a passionate vitality that reaches the core of the audience who is obviously there to have a good time. Paul Alexander Nolan (an infectious Tully) with a smooth, pure tone has perfect chemistry with Alison Luff (a strong and determined Rachel) who exhibits fine vocal prowess. Lisa Howard (an endearing and hysterical Tammy) practically steals the show with her Broadway belt and impeccable comic timing, as executed with love interest Eric Petersen (a wonderfully vacuous Brick). Paul Sparks (a resilient J.D.) clearly embodies the resident beachcomber who wins the heart of resort owner Marley (a soft but stern Rema Webb).
Of course, if you want to dig into the story, there are life lessons to be discovered, but the real treasure that everyone will find without any effort is fun. Do yourself a favor, forget your troubles and chill on this colorful, exuberant island where a volcano erupts but what covers the island is pure rapture. A young Buffett was highly influenced by his exposure to Mardi Gras and the ritual parade where Folly chases Death out of town. He is quoted as saying “Forty-five years later, I still vividly recall that first encounter with Death, and learning that Folly was the only way to deal with it. You know that Death will get you in the end, but if you are smart and have a sense of humor, you can thumb your nose at it for a while.”
ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE
The cast of “Escape to Margaritaville” features Matt Allen, Tessa Alves, Sara Andreas, Tiffany Adeline Cole, Marjorie Failoni, Samantha Farrow, Steven Good, Angela Grovey, Albert Guerzon, Lisa Howard, Keely Hutton, Justin Keats, Alison Luff, Mike Millan, Justin Mortelliti, Paul Alexander Nolan, Eric Petersen, Ryann Redmond, Jennifer Rias, Julius Anthony Rubio, Nick Sanchez, Don Sparks, Ian Michael Stuart, Brett Thiele, Andre Ward, and Rema Webb.
The creative team includes Walt Spangler (Scenic Designer), Paul Tazewell (Costume Designer), Howell Binkley (Lighting Designer), Brian Ronan (Sound Designer), Leah J. Loukas (Wigs, Hair, and Makeup Design), Flying By Foy (Flying Effects), Michael Utley (Orchestrations), Christopher Jahnke (Music Supervisor), Foresight Theatrical (General Management), and Telsey + Company / Rachel Hoffman, CSA (Casting). Production photos by Matthew Murphy.
Tickets for “Escape to Margaritaville” are available at the Marquis Theatre box office, via Ticketmaster.com, or by calling 877-250-2929. For further information, including performance schedule, please visit http://escapetomargaritavillemusical.com/. Running time is 2 hours 20 minutes, including one intermission.