La Comedia Dinner Theatre presents Broadway’s side-splitting homage to classic disaster films "Disaster" September 12 – November 3, 2019.
Earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and the unforgettable songs of the ’70s take center stage in Broadway’s side-splitting homage to classic disaster films.
It’s 1979, and all of New York is at the opening of a floating casino and disco. What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to panic as the ship succumbs to multiple disasters.
With larger-than-life characters, snappy dialogue and ’70s, hit songs such as “Hooked On A Feeling,” “I Am Woman,” “I Will Survive,” and “Hot Stuff,” Disaster! is a hilarious tribute to the era of bell-bottoms, platform shoes and the “Hustle.”
Tornadoes, tidal waves and infernos...oh my! No, it's not signs of global warming, but the dangerous obstacles that arise in Disaster! Set on the maiden voyage of a casino cruise ship, it’s anything but smooth sailing for the passengers in this hilarious musical comedy. Tragedy has never been so funny. It's as equally impossible to watch Titanic without getting a little teary eyed as it is to watch Disaster! with a straight face.
It takes a while for things to get going, but once it does, it's a very fast paced laugh riot. The scenes transition quickly which emphasizes the frenetic energy on the stage/ship. At the center of all the activity is a vast collection of the greatest hits from the seventies. The songs are woven in brilliantly. It's the most creative use of music in a musical I've ever seen. It almost seems as if the scenes were written just to work in the songs as dialogue.
The talented cast of characters include Chris Kramer as Tony, a Tony Clifton type, who owns the boat and made some unwise business decisions. A fan favorite is Sister Mary (Alison Moore), a guitar playing nun torn between two lovers; Christ and a slot machine. I think some commandments are broken during her tryst with the one armed bandit. From the sound of her high pitched whiny accent to her movements, everything about Moore’s performance is divine. Watching her could become a real…habit. If the director, Chris Beiser is reading this, sign her up for ‘Nunsense’ (coming in January) now. It would be a sin not to.
Quickly becoming one of La Comedia’s all-stars is Digger Howard whose string of stand-out performances continues as Dr. Ted, who warns of all the disasters. Howard brings the right amount of loveable nerdiness to the part, which is full of woe. Credit also goes to Howard for displaying some gymnastic excellence on a tightrope (beam).
While Ayanna Lewis isn't to blame, she does highlight my one complaint. Lewis plays Levora, a down on her luck former singer, whose rendition of ‘Theme from Mahogany’ made me wish the full version of the song was featured. A snippet of Lewis’ powerful voice just isn't enough. There's a number of other instances where I was left wanting more, including from Chad (Andy Donnelly), a server on the ship. I would have preferred a full serving rather than just an appetizer of ‘Without You.’
Speaking of enamoring voices, Karie- Lee Sutherland, (La Comedia's leading bombshell) is Jackie, the dim-witted lounge singer. Sutherland’s voice sparkles as bright as her evening gowns.
The modern day Helen of Troy, Mallory Georgia Marie has a face that could launch a thousand Uber drivers to come pick her up. She plays Marianne, a reporter looking to uncover all the corners Tony cut, but ends up finding a jilted ex - fiancée. With the theme song of “You’re still the One’ is Maury (John Dorney) & Shirley (Tonya Oslack), a married couple entering their golden years. There is a life altering secret between them though that comes to light from a Morse code translating tap dance routine. Yes, you read that correctly.
Special mention for stand - out performances goes to Madelyn Glenn in the dual roles of twin siblings, Ben and Lisa. The changes are instant, particularly during ‘When will I be Loved,’ a most impressive scene in which eighth grader Glenn shows the talent of a seasoned veteran. The role is split with fellow eighth grader Noah Engel.
Also, David Thomas makes the most out of a bit part as Scott, who brings laughs every time he appears on stage. My favorite joke is about a personal imbalance that his character suffers, but isn’t afraid to talk about.
There are some tragic demises, but the deaths will cause tears of laughter rather than sadness. For instance, there's a burial at sea that will leave you in pieces. I know there's some of you not interested in seeing this show because it's unknown. It's a bit of a gamble, pun intended, but the payoff though is huge. Besides, Chris Kramer is in it, does anything else matter? I was unsure of what to expect, but now feel the name should be changed to Success! It will be a Disaster! If you miss this show, which continues at La Comedia through November 3.
Mike Woody is a life long resident of Dayton, and has a passion for writing, which is good because he doesn't excel at much of anything else, except eating.
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