BWW Review: Brighton's DISASTER! Is Anything But
If you like '70s music and disaster movies...boy, do I have a musical for you.
Disaster!, which recently appeared on Broadway for a short stint in 2016, has a book by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick, who cleverly strung together more than 30 hit songs of the 1970s into their plot. You'll hear everything from "Hot Stuff" and "When Will I Be Loved", to "Daybreak" and "Knock on Wood." And while hearing these songs in a musical is great enough, the way their lyrics work is honestly the way I wish most jukebox musicals would do it.
While the show is sprinkled with references to 1970s disaster films, the plot mainly follows that of The Poseidon Adventure. (You know, where the boat flips upside down.) A floating casino/discotheque called the Barracuda is making its maiden voyage off the coast of New York in 1979 with a slew of characters.
You've got the sleazy owner, Tony Delvecchio (Charlie Schmidt) and the nightclub singer he's stringing along, Jackie Noelle (Abby McInerney), along with her kids Ben/Lisa (Parker Gunderson). Then there's a nun, Sister Mary (Bethany Luhrs) who's addicted to gambling, who's brought on board by a couple celebrating their retirement, Shirley (Jill Daughtery) and Maury (Kris Graves).
All the while, disaster expert Professor Ted Scheider (Adam Luhrs) tries to warn those on board about an earthquake, disco diva Levora Verona (Cooper Rae) stows away with her dog, and a reporter named Marianne (Sara Metz) is trying to get to scoop on what corners Tony cut to save money, but she runs into her ex-fiance Chad (Ron Ben-Joseph), brought on board as a waiter with his friend Scott (Trevor Wood), trying to pick up ladies.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a wittier script than this one. Along with the cleverly referenced musical numbers, the show is full of visual gags, smartly crafted by director Kelly Van Oosbree, who also somehow choreographed several high-energy dance numbers.
The cast is perfectly constructed with comedians who can belt their faces off. Even with so many principal characters, many of the actors get moments to shine. The show flows from one high-energy hit to the next, and the entire ensemble rarely faults.
Whether it's for the performances, the music or all the moments that made you laugh, Disaster! is one of those nights at the theatre you'll be talking about long after you see it.
The Platte Valley Players production of Disaster! continues through this weekend at the Armory Performing Arts Center in Brighton with performances on Friday, November 15, at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday, November 16, at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets at plattevalleyplayers.org.
Photos by RDG Photography