Sunday, April 22, 2018

Escape to Warmer Weather (Escape to Margaritaville on Broadway)

Blazer: Asos (similar here)//Top: Loft//Jeans: J Crew Factory (similar here and here)//Necklace: Loft

We are officially into the spring part of the current season on Broadway where shows are starting
previews in order to open before the deadline for award season for 2017-2018. Now I’m not a huge
fan of going to see shows in previews because they continue to make changes in the show all the
way up to opening night, so you’re not getting the “frozen show” meaning there are no more changes
made to the show. However, with my mom in town and we realized that Escape to Margaritaville
was actually starting previews her first night in town, she expressed how much she wanted to see
the show compared to seeing Phantom or Once On This Island, which were the shows I was pushing
for to choose between for a Monday night show. I wouldn’t say she’s a Parrothead (the
nickname for Jimmy Buffet fans), but she does enjoy his music and is a huge fan of the beach, so
she wanted to see a more light and fun show that was set at the beach.


We purchased our tickets for the Monday performance on Friday night through a discount site
and we sat in the front mezzanine towards the side of the theatre, but still a full view. I have never
been to the Marquis Theatre, but would have loved to see the 2012 revival of Evita there if I had the
chance. We arrived at the theatre early to pick up our tickets and so we were able to walk around the
“lobby area”. If you have never been to the Marquis Theatre, this theater is actually inside the Marriott
Marquis Hotel in Times Square, which is slightly mind blowing. So essentially the lobby is in the hotel,
which gave the creative team a lot of room for creativity and did they use it.



The whole area outside of the actual area is decorated with beach items the best as one can do
in a hotel in NYC. There were wood high top tables strung with lights and palm trees to make you
feel like you’re at a beach bar and a bicycle under a directions sign to make you feel like you’re
exploring the area. The area is complete with Adirondack chairs and plenty of photo opportunities.
It’s a great promotional idea, especially if you arrive at the theatre before the crowds.

Once you actually get into the theatre, there isn’t much of a lobby space, which is understandable
again as the hotel itself is practically a lobby, complete with a Starbucks. The show has cute
merchandise, for those who enjoy getting a t-shirt or other souvenir items from the shows they see.
I purchases a cute loose tee with the phrase “It’s a way of life”. And, as is necessary for any Jimmy
Buffett related place, they have his margaritas for sell at the bars, which are the biggest seller for
the show. It was actually said recently that they ran out of margaritas for one performance because
they were so popular.

Before I go into the show itself and my thoughts about it, I would like to let it be known that I am not
the biggest fan of Jukebox musicals. Jukebox musicals are musicals based off a popular artist or
band’s music. Mamma Mia is honestly the only Jukebox musical that I have seen that I loved. I saw
Jersey Boys and while I thought it was good, I wasn’t a show that gave the desire to see it again like
other shows have (hello Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 and R+H Cinderella). Other
popular Jukebox musicals are Beautiful, the Carole King Musical, Rock of Ages, On Your Feet!,
Motown!, and After Midnight. Jukebox musicals have become more popular in the 2000s and in a
way it’s a way to draw in all types of people into the show. There will be a lot of tourists interested in
seeing Escape to Margaritaville, because it’s Jimmy Buffett’s musical. There will be and were a lot
of parrotheads at the show, decked out in their Hawaiian shirts.  

However, here is my biggest pet peeve about seeing a jukebox musical is when the audience sings
along to the music. It’s completely fine whenever the audience encourages it, which the show did
numerous times, especially during the finale and curtain call, but whenever I go see a show, I want
to be taken away into the storyline and hear these actors share their talents with the audience, and
I can’t do that when the people around me are singing along and taking my attention away from the
stage.



I went into the show kinda familiar with his music. The song I know the best is “Margaritaville” as is
the same for most people. My mom did play his music whenever we were in the car, but she played
Gloria Estefan more often. When I left the show, these were the songs I enjoyed the most in the
show: “Come Monday Medley”, “A Pirate Looks at Forty”, “Fins” and “Volcano”.

Before I really dig into the plot and the main characters, I would just like it known that this is a cheesy
musical, which is what one should expect with songs such as “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and
“Grapefruit - Juicy Fruit”. Nothing wrong with these songs as I loved them, but for the avid theatregoer,
one can be turned off by this. I still believe that people should see this show, if only to escape from
the cold weather the city is constantly having and have a good and light-hearted evening in the theatre.



Just a quick overview of what the musical is about. Tully (Paul Alexander Nolan) is a musician
and beach bum who is happily living out his days performing at a Margaritaville hotel in the Caribbean
with his friend Brick (Eric Peterson), the bartender. And then comes in work-a-holic Rachel (Alison
Luff) and Tammy (Lisa Howard), who are in the Caribbean for a Bachelorette weekend before Tammy
gets married. Essentially, Rachel manages to make a fun weekend away into a partial work trip also
and Tully becomes intrigued by her and tries to help her become more relaxed and fun. Tammy and
Brick find out they have a lot in common and that there are better guys out there than the guy she’s
marrying, who wants her to change who she is and forces her on diets. At the end of Act 1, Tully has
fallen in love with Rachel, but Rachel and Tammy leave to go back home and a volcano on the island
erupts.

Act 2 starts with the islanders and tourists trying to escape the island with the volcano erupting.
Tully, Brick, and Marly (Rema Webb), the hotel owner, escapes on JD’s (Don Sparks) plane where
they discover JD’s mysterious and adventurous life story. Tully decides he wants to try and make
things work with Rachel and they end up flying to Cleveland, where Tammy just happens to be in the
middle of her rehearsal dinner. When they show up, Tammy ends up breaking off her engagement
over being unable to eat cheeseburgers. Tully sings a song for Rachel about his feelings for her and
she decides to turn him down, however a music producer happens to be there and wants Tully to
sign to a record label. We see three years pass in one song where Tully becomes a success and
Rachel finally gets funded for her experiment. They end up back on the island at the same time, with
Rachel learning that Tully was performing and Rachel confesses that she never got over them and
they end up together at the end, along with Tammy and Brick, who became a couple after the ill-fated
rehearsal dinner.



Overall, I thought it was one of the better plots for a jukebox musical and I can see it possible being
nominated for a Tony Award for best new musical. It honestly depends on how the other new
musicals are. There were some parts that seemed questionable for me, such as the seemingly random
tap number with Brick and dead insurance agents. While the costume change was spectacular, I still
didn’t see why they put a tap number in the show and it didn’t have quite a smooth transition as one
needs. However, they have also made changes with the show since I saw it, so the problems I am
writing about that I saw with it may no longer be there.

Each of the principal cast were phenomenal and they brought their own take to Jimmy Buffett’s songs.
Paul Alexander Nolan was a standout for me, having also seen him as Guy in Once. Lisa Howard
proves once again she has a powerhouse voice and I loved getting to finally see her in a show. Alison
Luff was gorgeous and she sang each of her songs beautifully. The costumes were great with the
beach theme but not over doing it.

Forewarning though, if you have never been to a Jimmy Buffett concert, at the end of the show,
hundred of beach balls fall from the ceiling and the audience is supposed to pass them around. I
have never been to one of his concerts so it threw me off, but my mom explained that it’s a staple to
his concerts.

This show is more geared towards tourists or for any New Yorkers who want to escape from the cold
for just a couple of hours, as I am at this moment. While I do hate when shows close (still upset over
the closing of The Great Comet and Bandstand), I can’t see this show staying on for long, at least
through the summer season. It will honestly depend on how well it does for Tony nominations and
awards and how it performs during the tourist season. I would suggest for friends to see it if they
are looking for a fun and light-hearted new show of the season.



Escape to Margaritaville is currently playing at the Marquis Theatre on W. 46th Street. Discount
tickets are available through the shows rush tickets, lottery, TKTS, Today Tix, and through a TDF
membership.

Have you seen this new show yet? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know what your favorite
Jimmy Buffett song is!
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