BWW Interview: Alison Luff Talks ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE's Pre-Broadway Tour Stop in Houston
Alison Luff, Houston's own homegrown talent, returns to the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts from Tuesday, October 31 to Sunday, November 5 in ESCAPE TO MARGARTAVILLE. The new musical, currently on a pre-Broadway tour, features a score written by beachy pop legend Jimmy Buffett. To get the inside scoop on the show, we sat down with Luff for a quick chat about her work with the production and what it is like getting to originate a role in a Broadway bound musical.
How did you come to be involved with ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE?
My audition for ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE happened rather quickly. I was called in to audition for the casting director and select creative team on a Tuesday morning, and I asked to come back that afternoon to do the material for Jimmy [Buffett], the rest of the creative team, and the producers.
I was asked to prepare a Jimmy Buffett song. I chose, last minute, to sing a song I had just heard for the first time the night before the audition! When I heard "Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On," I instantly fell in love with it and searched the Internet for sheet music. I, of course, had zero luck finding it. Especially, so last minute. But, with the encouragement and convincing of my husband, I brought in my guitar and accompanied myself on the song.
The last time you were on tour, starring as Elphaba in WICKED, the route sadly didn't bring you through Houston, TX. How are you feeling about getting to bring this new show to Houston?
I could not be more excited to bring ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE to Houston. I love any opportunity to be home with family and friends, but the fact that I get to be playing a theatre I worked at as a teenager, with a show and character I have taken part in creating, feels extremely full circle. I get butterflies thinking about it.
With ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE, as you said, you are getting to create a character. What is that like?
Originating and creating Rachel has been one of the most thrilling, rewarding, and special experiences of my professional life. The process has just been one giant collaboration with the book writers, Greg Garcia and Mike O'Malley, and the creative team.
Tell me a little about Rachel. Who is she? Are you similar to her in any way?
Rachel is an extremely focused, driven, and hardworking environmental scientist trying to better the world. I hope I'm like that. Although, I am certainly not an environmental scientist.
What about the show? What is it all about?
ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE is a classic, romantic comedy. A boy-meets-girl love story set in paradise. There is friendship, there is female power, and there is love! What more do you need?
The score is made up of Jimmy Buffet's indelible hits, but are they any surprises in the music that you can divulge?
The show has Buffett classics of course, but there are a few new songs he has written just for the show!
Have you gotten to work with Jimmy Buffet as you prepare for this role and this show? If so, what has that been like?
Jimmy has been very involved with the creative process and is a joy to work with. He is extremely supportive and is a huge advocate of loving what you do and enjoying the moment.
After the short pre-Broadway tour, you'll be taking this show to Broadway. How does that feel and what is that like?
I couldn't possibly be more elated to bring ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE to Broadway. Honestly, it's a dream come true to have the opportunity to originate a character like Rachel. I am excited for New Yorkers and tourists to experience the escape I have gotten to experience the last nine months.
As a hometown girl making her mark in professional theater, what advice would you offer to others who want to follow in your footsteps?
The best advice I could give is to work hard and look at everything and everyone through the lens of a student. Use everything and everyone you come in contact with as a teacher. Be open, be vulnerable, and be genuine. The best thing you can offer people-that no one else has to offer but you-is your authentic self. Lastly, treat people with respect and kindness. Kindness is key.
Following Hurricane Harvey, what does "Houston Strong" mean to you?
When I hear, "Houston Strong," I hear "community strong." To me it means, power in togetherness!
You're sure to be in a sour attitude if you miss ESCAPE TO MARGARTIAVILLE before it changes latitudes. For more information and tickets, please visit http://escapetomargaritavillemusical.com/ or https://houston.broadway.com/shows/escape-margaritaville/.