Set Your Mind on Island Time and “Escape to Margaritaville”
The Engeman Theater’s “Escape to Margaritaville” is a nonstop beach party bonanza and a must-see, fun-for-the-whole-family summertime show. Be sure to wear a colorful tropical outfit, but consider leaving the Parrot Head hat at home, so the people sitting behind you can see what’s happening!
The vacation vibe begins the moment you arrive at the Engeman Theater. The smiling valets greet you wearing beach hats, shorts, and Hawaiian shirts. The lobby has a tiki bar set up for photo ops. The intimate lounge has signature Jimmy Buffett cocktails, so treat yourself to one, sit back, and let the good times roll.
Based on the beloved island tunes of Jimmy Buffett, with book by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley, this 2018 Broadway jukebox musical tells the tale of Tully Mars, a smooth-talking singer/bartender, who loves his laidback, no-strings-attached lifestyle, until he falls head over heels for Rachel, a career-driven environmental scientist, and his entire life turns upside down.
The tropical Caribbean set by Kyle Dixon had the audience soaking in the beachy ambiance when they stepped inside the theatre. The live band, led by Musical Director Ed Goldschneider, was strategically stationed onstage, ready to wow the audience. Cheering and clapping exploded throughout the theatre when Tully and the ensemble entered the stage sporting colorful beachwear designed by Dustin Cross. The opening number, “License to Chill,” reminded the audience to leave their troubles behind and “Escape to Margaritaville.”
Sam Sherwood gave an outstanding performance as Tully, demonstrating his musical talent every time he played his guitar. He showcased his powerhouse vocals throughout the evening, delivering an unforgettable rendition of “King of Somewhere.”
Meadow Nguy was convincing as Rachel, a woman obsessed with her job and helping the world. Nguy is a polished performer, and the audience loved her solo “It’s My Job.” Rachel and Tully’s duets “Three Chords,” a song written especially for this show, and the beloved classic “Son of a Son of a Sailor” were showstoppers.
With her funky island accent, dreadlocks, and colorful West Indies fashions, Amanda Bailey rocked the part of Marley, the hardworking manager of the rundown Margaritaville Hotel and Bar. Dan Sharkey gave a tour-de-force performance as J.D., a good-natured, aging drunkard who is losing his hearing and sight. Thanks to a “little blue pill,” he gets his mojo back and actively pursues Marley. Bailey and Sharkey showcased their strong vocals during “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw,” the song Jimmy Buffett originally wrote as a parody of country music love songs.
Hunter Brown gave a command performance as Brick, a big-hearted bartender who isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Brown, a natural-born comedian, received some of the biggest laughs of the evening. The audience particularly loved his “flashback” scenes where he encounters a pack of dancing zombie insurance salesmen. As Tammy, Rachel’s fun-loving friend, and Brick’s love interest, Maggie Bera gave a standout performance. Brown and Bera had great onstage chemistry, and they showcased their stellar vocals with their duet, “We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About.” Mikey Marmann gave a noteworthy performance as Chadd, Tammy’s obnoxious, controlling fiancé.
The multi-talented, high-energy ensemble includes Danielle Cooper, Lance Jewett, Brianna Kaleen, Ashley Klinger, Anna Chase Lanier, Leer Leary, Alexis Loiselle, Mikey Marmann, and Leron Wellington. The swings are Sarah Lindsey and Brett Rawling.
“Escape to Margaritaville” is a funny, fabulous, festive show featuring a cast of likable, relatable characters. This show has no bad guys or villains, just a smoking volcano ready to erupt. One of the show’s highlights was Dwayne Washington’s pitch-perfect rendition of “Volcano.”
Expertly directed and choreographed by Keith Andrews, the opening night of “Escape to Margaritaville” was a smash hit, and the rousing applause and lengthy standing ovation at the show’s end said it all!
“Escape To Margaritaville” runs through Sunday, August 27, 2023. Tickets may be purchased by calling 631-261-2900, going online at www.engemantheater.com, or visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.