Escape To Margaritaville -A Review by Michael Martinez
Book by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley
Directed by Christopher Ashley
Marquis Theatre, 211 West 45th Street & Broadway
Director Christopher Ashley (Tony Award winner for Come From Away) and book writers Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley have performed a minor miracle transforming the music and lyrics of singer / songwriter Jimmy Buffet into the funny and very entertaining musical Escape To Margaritaville. The creative team has brushed off the cobwebs of a traditional Broadway “boy meets girl” story and successfully united it with the music of Buffett and an excellent cast. The musical takes place at the Margaritaville Hotel and Bar, a Caribbean resort that offers travelers booze, music, sunshine and romance. The resort also features a laid back singer, Tully, who would like to make it in the music business but instead feels at home in the sun and sand. Tully also feel at home romancing the female tourists, relationships that last until the bus delivers the ladies back to their cruise ships. Into this paradise enter two vacationing friends from Ohio. Rachel is an environmental scientist who captures Tully’s heart and Tammy, who falls for the resort bartender, is planning to get married after the vacation. These romantic scenarios are relationships we have seen before on Broadway and a few Elvis Presley movies, yet Escape To Margaritaville adds enough original touches to make the experience seem fresh.
The talented cast features Paul Alexander Nolan as the beached troubador Tully. Nolan handles his role with skill. He delivers a performance that goes beyond the sexy beach boy and displays the inner workings of a young man falling in love. Lisa Howard is also exceptional as Tammy. Howard is a comic master as well as a great singer. Eric Petersen almost steals the show as the bartender Brick who falls for Tammy. The most impressive performance belongs to Alison Luff, Luff who has starred in the revival of Les Miserables on Broadway and has played Elphaba in the first national tour of Wicked, is brilliant in her role as a scientist who gives into her passions and eventually finds love. Don Sparks also delivers a hilarious performance as the resort tour guide.
The musical hightlights in Escape To Margaritaville are many and include “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”, “Fins”, “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and the classic “Margaritaville.” Director Christopher Ashley has done a skillfull job bringing the music of Jimmy Buffett to the stage and creating a show that has alot to offer Jimmy Buffet fans and theatergoers looking for a two hour musical vacation. The show also offers those unfamiliar with Buffett’s music to discover a singer/songwriter who has his own unique style of Americana.