Mike Woody reviews: Jimmy Buffett's Escape to Margaritaville - at LaComedia Dinner Theatre now through June 18
Traditionally before every show at La Comedia the following announcement is made, ‘At this time we do change from a restaurant to a theatre…’ (Joe Adkins says it best). For ‘Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville,’ the statement should be, ‘from a restaurant to a tropical paradise.’ The performance really does transport you to a far away island, especially after a couple of ….margaritas (show drink). Mine was even without alcohol and I still felt the oceans breeze. The work of the cast, set design team and everyone involved in Escape to Margaritaville does provide a new atmosphere for La Comedia.
Being an aficionado of Buffett’s music is not required to enjoy the show (I’m not), but for those who are, it probably resembles a spiritual experience. The plot revolves around many of his greatest hits, plus some songs written just for the show. At the center of it all is Tully, played by wonderfully by Jesse Plourde. He’s the resident musician of the island’s bar, who savors life as a beach bum. Plourde totally embodies the character, with a voice as captivating as his persona. Tully’s world is shook, like if a volcano had erupted when he meets Rachel (Claire McPartland). McPartland is perfect as the uptight, career focused scientist who wants to change the world through potatoes. Her performance will leave you, or at least the men, remembering their fourth grade teachers.
Rachel is on the island to celebrate her best friends, Tammy, bachelorette party. Tammy is played by the fun spirited, Sydney McQueem Fiesler who becomes tempted by the bartender, Brick (Kyle McIntire). The past, the present and future walk into the bar….it was tense. If laughing, you and the very punny Brick, have the same sense of humor. Brick builds such a strong foundation with Tammy, she starts to question her decision to marry. They even get a brand new tattoo, though where it came from, he has no clue. The groom to be Chadd, is a real jerk, who Jake McCutcheon excels at making a despicable character of.
The island is also inhabited by its senior resident, JD (Mark Reuter), who has a hard time keeping track of his salt shaker. Having a patch over one of his eyes, doesn’t help any. Reuter wears many hats at La Comedia, including a chef one, and he carves up a masterpiece as JD. The beef Reuter serves may be rare, but his onstage performance is…well done.
The island’s resort is ran by Marley, played by the exuberant Nicole Korbisch. If a tequila shot was had for each of her one-liners, I would have been passed out under the table by intermission. Whether acting as haunting insurance agents or just tourists, the entire ensemble is splendid, particularly with their dance moves.
Under events I never thought I’d experience was the La Comedia crowd shouting in unison a certain word. It’s not a four but a five letter word. I can check it off though as it happened during ‘Why Don’t We Get Drunk.’ That’s just one of the musical highlights. Others include an emotionally moving rendition of ‘He Went to Paris’ and ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’ will make your mouth water. Special mention to Jonathan Pendergrass whose talents erupt with ‘Volcano.’
As to be expected, ‘Margaritaville’ is a show-stopper, and among the best (definitely most audience participatory) songs I’ve seen done at La Comedia.
The buffet, the pronunciation of the t is optional for this show, is delicious as usual. The pineapple soufflé was exceptionally good. I was expecting pound cake for dessert, but no complaints over the dole whip.
Between all the parrot heads, Hawaiian shirts and people singing along, it’s the most I’ve seen an audience immersed in a show a La Comedia. It’s not to be missed.
More information: Jimmy Buffett's Escape to Margaritaville