Review: Escape to Margaritaville, National Tour (DPAC)

A fun time with Jimmy Buffett’s music

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ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE surely features the most Hawaiian print clothing that has ever graced the stage of DPAC. This musical tells the story of a sweet romance between an island-dweller and a tourist, using the music of Jimmy Buffett. Especially as the weather has turned colder recently, it is just what it promises: an escape to a warm climate full of singing, dancing, and tequila.

The musical, which premiered in 2017, has music and lyrics by Jimmy Buffett with a book written by Greg Garcia and Mike O'Malley. Singer Tully (Chris Clark) works at a run-down beach resort called Margaritaville alongside a bartender named Brick (Peter Michael Jordan). He's happy to spend his days relaxing and flirting with the tourists, while avoiding anything that looks like commitment.

Meanwhile, environmental scientist Rachel (Sarah Hinrichsen) is reluctant to take a break from work to go on vacation with her best friend Tammy (Emily Qualmann). Rachel can't stand Tammy's cartoonishly jerkish fiancé Chadd (Kyle Southern) and is dreading their wedding when they return from Margaritaville.

Tony Award-Winner Norbert Leo Butz Launches New Broadway Concert Series At Theatre RaleighWhile Rachel is dismayed that the resort is not as nice as it looked online and to find out that she has no phone service on the island and thus can't keep working, she is eventually able to get into the island spirit with some help. Tully and Brick spend time with Rachel and Tammy and sparks fly between the two couples. But after Rachel and Tammy return to Cincinnati, will anything become of their romances?

There's a sort of Hallmark movie quality to the plot, which can be very cheesy at times. Some of the dialogue veers into cringey and it's not the most engaging story.

The show features lots of Jimmy Buffett classic songs, including "Cheeseburger in Paradise," "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere," and "Margaritaville," along with some that might be less familiar to casual Buffett fans. Unfortunately, many of these songs feel forced into the plot compared to the more natural integration of ABBA songs into MAMMA MIA.

Tony Award-Winner Norbert Leo Butz Launches New Broadway Concert Series At Theatre RaleighDespite these issues, the show still has plenty of fun to offer. The set, by Walt Spangler, is fantastic with a large beach hut taking up much of the stage. The choreography, including the random tap number, is another highlight.

Rachel Lyn Fobbs as resort owner Marley and Matthew James Sherrod as busboy Jamal provide lots of humor, along with great vocals. The standout of the show is Jordan, as Brick, who is excellent at the comedic aspects.

While this musical might not have the most exciting plot, its Buffett songs are enough to keep it afloat. The youthful cast seem to be having a great time onstage and that fun transfers to the audience too. ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE is at DPAC until November 14.

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy


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From This Author - Nicole Ackman

Nicole Ackman returned to her native Raleigh, North Carolina after living in London and New York City. She studied communications and history at Elon University and earned her Master’s in Arts A... (read more about this author)


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