BWW Review: DISASTER! at ONSTAGE In Bedford
In the world of musical theater, jukebox musicals can be a huge train wreck with bits of a story loosely woven together to form a lackluster plot. But for DISASTER!, it's the hits of the 70s (34 of them to be precise) that serve as the perfect musical punchlines to an already hysterical script.
ONSTAGE in Bedford gets the honor of the regional premiere for this musical comedy riffing the great disaster flicks such as TOWERING INFERNO, EARTHQUAKE, and, of course, THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE. And as Artistic Director Michael B. Winters told the sold-out, opening night audience, show creators Seth Rudetsky, Jack Plotnick and Drew Geraci even sent this cast a newly edited version of the script since its 2016 Broadway run making it a world premiere of sorts.
Director Lon Barrera brings together a diverse and talented cast to sing and dance aboard a cruise ship as they face countless apocalyptic endings including tidal waves, earthquakes, shark attacks and even falling chandeliers. Everything about DISASTER! is big and brassy from Kevin Brown's inventive set design to the larger-than-life puppets created by Gabrielle Grafrath that give the show some of its best sight gags.
With so much going on, it could be easy for the cast to overplay their roles to try to stand out. Luckily, that's not the case. The actors are able to ham it up without overselling the jokes. Among the most memorable performances are Michelle Phillips as Sister Mary Downey bringing a whole new twist to love ballad "Never Can Say Goodbye," Jason Solis as a very convincing disco diva Levora Verona, and Grayson Oliver doing double duty as twins Ben and Lisa. The youngest member of the cast, Mr. Oliver proves he's got the comedic chops to keep up with even the most seasoned pros. And honorable mention to Sherry Etzel as Shirley, a seemingly mild mannered cruise goer who uses the power of tap dance to save the day.
Despite the title, DISASTER! is anything but. It's a fast-paced loved letter to the fun and funky 70s when the song lyrics were quirky, shoes were platformy, and a fateful trip on a cruise ship could have catastrophic (and hilarious) results.
DISASTER! plays at ONSTAGE in Bedford through July 23, 2017. For tickets and more information, please visit http://www.onstageinbedford.com/