You’ll Find Your Lost Shaker Of Salt
And A Lot More At The Ogunquit Playhouse
Jimmy Buffet’s Escape To Margaritaville
Reviewed by Bobby Franklin
There hasn’t been a lot of sunshine so far this summer, but at the Ogunquit Playhouse everyday is a beach day with Jimmy Buffet’s Escape To Margaritaville, the 2018 Broadway hit that has now been adapted for the stage in Ogunquit. Director Richard J. Hinds was allowed freedom with the script that gives the musical the Ogunquit Playhouse magic touch, the touch that always makes things better.
The 2018 Broadway jukebox musical built around the music of Jimmy Buffet normally would not be considered very deep. However, as we are emerging from well over a year of social distancing and, for many, isolation, a work such as this allows us to laugh, sing together, and get back to what it means to share fun and music with one another.
Spending two hours with Tully ((Jake David Smith), Rachel (Cailen Fu), Brick (Matt Wolpe), Tammy (Megan Kane), JD (John Antony), Marley (Crystal Sha’nae), Jamal (Tyler McKenzie), and the rest of this energetic and enthusiastic cast allows us to have some of the much needed Changes In Latitudes, Change In Attitudes that we have been seeking.
It might seem odd to describe this musical as touching and moving, but 2018 seems like it was decades ago and songs and lines that might have seemed a bit corny back then mean much more now. It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere sure hits the spot now.
The story that begins with Tammy and Rachel visiting a Caribbean Island in the week before Tammy’s wedding brings together all these wonderful characters who end up finding much to learn from each other and what’s important in life. Rachel at first finds it hard to relax but finally lets her hair down with Tully (Son Of A Son Of A Sailor), while Brick and Tammy connect during We Are The People Our Parents Warned Us.
The hotel/bar where Brick and Tully work and Rachel and Tammy are staying is run by Marley who has help from Jamal. Marley is quite the gossip as we learn in Coconut Telegraph. Ms Sha’nae uses a lovely patois as she sings while spreading the latest rumors.
From the opening number straight through to the close the energy of the cast was in full force . Mr. Smith when performing Margaritaville begins with a simple acoustic guitar and is then joined by John Antony, Matt Wolpe, Crystal Sha’nae, and Tyler McKenzie who were all marvelous as they build it into a terrific finale for the first act. It almost seemed a shame to have to pause for intermission.
There are two zombie dance sequences that are quite something to see. The zombies are brought on by Brick’s anxieties, and sure make for some interesting staging. You wouldn’t mind having this gang show up at one of your barbecues.
JD is a 76 year old beach bum who spends his days at the bar telling stories most of the people don’t believe. This changes during the touching He Went To Paris, where his life story is told and the non believers have their eyes opened.
Being in the outdoor pavilion has not forced the team at the Playhouse to compromise on lighting and effects. While I am sure it has been a real challenge for them, they have pulled it off marvelously. The volcano eruption sequence is evidence of that.
The staging is impressive and the sets are vividly colorful. I was quite impressed with the acoustics considering this is taking place in an outdoor pavilion. It rivaled what would be heard at the indoor venue.
The show is full of high spots. A few that were even a bit higher for me were Why Don’t We Get Drunk with JD urging the audience to fill in the blank about what to do after imbibing. Come Monday with Brick and Tammy, and of course, Cheeseburger In Paradise where Tammy and Brick bring down the house.
While the audience was clearly thrilled with the production, the cast members showed by their enthusiasm how happy they were to be back on the stage.
The orchestra, complete with steel drums, gives a solid Caribbean Island flavor to the score that makes you thirsty for a tasty margarita that is available at the bar. Situated high up on both sides of the stage it sounded great.
I must confess, that while I grew up during the heyday of Jimmy Buffet and was familiar with some of his songs, I was far from a Parrot Head. After seeing this production I will be listening much more. At this point I’m now probably more JD than Tully, but it is still fun.
The superb cast, the delightful music, the summertime energy make this a must see show.
The superb cast, the delightful music, the summertime energy make this a must see show. With Ogunquit Beach just down the street and with ocean breezes wafting through the Leary Pavillon, you couldn’t ask for a better setting for a musical featuring the music of Jimmy Buffet. Even with all of the challenges it has faced, the Ogunquit Playhouse continues to exceed expectations.
It’s time to enjoy life again, to smile and share and connect. Come and take a bite out of this Cheeseburger In Paradise in Ogunquit. You won’t be disappointed.
Jimmy Buffet’s Escape To Margaritaville
Through August 28
The Ogunquit Playhouse