Saturday December 16th 2017

“Escape to Margaritaville…the Musical”

Highly Recommended **** With the great success of Abba and their “Mama Mia”, it was obvious that taking a musical legend’s music and adding a story that would link the songs can be a hit. Add to this, the great Chicago stages as the gateway to Broadway and Chicago’s own Jimmy Buffett, and we have what could be the next big “cult musical” , “Escape to Margaritaville..the Musical”! In their slogan they say “more than a musical, It’s a way of life”. While I am not sure about what that translates to, I am sure that based on the opening night crowd reaction, this is a show that will work on the New York stages as well as here in Chicago. Yes, our populace knows and loves him. Yes, they fill Wrigley Field for his sold out concerts and on more than one occasion, I have seen him in the stands at a game (not only a playoff, and to show good faith, Ryne Sandberg was in tonight’s opener for Jimmy), but because his music is charming.

The show is a charming musical comedy featuring Buffett’s classic songs such as “Come Monday”, “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, “Volcano”, and of course the title song “Margaritaville”. In total 29 songs fill the Oriental Theatre and probably can be felt on the entire block. The book by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley brings the songs together to tell the story of two good friends, Rachel ( the enticing Alison Luff) and her buddy, who is about to get married, Tammy ( the adorable Lisa Howard) and are taking a trip to spend their last  “singles” week-end together. Tammy’s fiancée is more into sports and “thinness” than into romance and so when the girls arrive on the Caribbean and meet two locals, their lives change, forever.

The local guys they meet are Tully ( deftly handled by Paul Alexander Nolan), a singer-songwriter who is kind of waiting for life to find him and his buddy Brick (the hysterical Eric Petersen). What follows is the adventures and explorations of these “couples”, and rather than kill the mood for you I will only tell you that what you see is what you get and after all is said and done, you will see a happy ending. In fact, a VERY happy ending. There is another romance in the story. That of the Innkeeper on the island, Marley (a beautiful job by Rema Webb) and the elder statesman of the island J.D. (an incredible character played to perfection by Don Sparks, who almost appears to be NOT acting). NOTE: this is not a Greek Island and Markey is NOT like Donna Sheridan and the two other women are not her back-up singers.( I felt like throwing that in for fun).

Directed by Christopher Ashley with some clever choreography by Kelly Devine on a great set (Walt Spangler) and with great lighting (Howell Binkley) and terrific sound (Brian Roman), this is a strong production and should play well in the “big apple” and elsewhere. The costumes ( Paul Tazewell) are glitzy and there are some times that you will see the actors fly across the stage. I cannot explain this…you must see it for yourself, but it is worth waiting for. There is really no way that one can predict the future of a play. Many of us thought “War Paint” would never make it to Broadway and not only did it, if one of its stars did not need surgery, it probably would still be running strong. This musical should have staying power due to the strength of the Buffett fan base (they LOVE his music) and because it does what theater is supposed to do–divert us from the news we read and hear each day ( both real and “fake”) and the stress we feel in our daily lives. For two-hours-fifteen minutes we are NOT filled with anything but happiness, smiles and great music. Who could ask for more from a musical?

As always, the ensemble makes this show work: Andre Ward, Matt Allen, Tessa Alves, Sara Andreas, Samantha Farrow, Steven Good, Angela Grovey, Albert Guerzon, Autumn Guzzardi, Keely Hutton, Mike Millan, Justin Mortelliti, Ryan Redmond, Julius Anthony Rubio Ian Michael Stuart and Brett Thiele. Great job! Hats off to the musicians under the direction of Christopher Jahnke.

 

“Escape to Margaritaville” will only be here thru December 2nd with performances as follows:

Fri, Nov 17: 7:30pm
Sat, Nov 18: 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Nov 19: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Tue, Nov 21: 7:30pm
Wed, Nov 22: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Fri, Nov 24: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Sat, Nov 25: 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sun, Nov 26: 2:00pm
Tue, Nov 28: 7:30pm
Wed, Nov 29: 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Thu, Nov 30: 7:30pm
Fri, Dec 1: 7:30pm
Sat, Dec 2: 2:00pm & 8:00pm

Tickets range from $35- $115 and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticket line at 1-800-775-2000 or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com

The Oriental Theatre is located at 24 West Randolph Street

If you love the music of Buffett, this is a MUST see. If you are a lover of fun musicals, you will have a great time.

To see what others are saying (and I am sure there will be mixed reviews on this one), visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click “Escape To Margaritaville”

to see the show elsewhere, visit http://www.TTTescape.com(travel with the show).

There are beach balls during the curtain calls and lots of fun. Tonight Jimmy Buffett was in the audience and came on stage to do another version of the title song. You will probably not get that but you will see a highly energetic and talented cast bring his music to life.

 

Red Carpet before openingCurtain Calls

 

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