Review: ‘Escape to Margaritaville’ at Marquis Theatre Offers Lessons for Innkeepers

By Jonathan Spira on 17 April 2018
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Perhaps the most important lesson one can take away from “Escape to Margaritaville” is how innkeepers at otherwise questionable establishments can offer thousand thread-count sheets.

“Margaritaville,” the Jimmy Buffet jukebox musical that opened in March in the Marquis Theatre on Broadway, has a decidedly tropical look from the ushers’ tropical shirts to the obligatory margaritas to Walt Spangler’s colorful set that belies its past as the theater where I saw revivals of “Evita,” “Victor/Victoria,” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

The story takes place at a questionable Caribbean hotel called Margaritaville, on an island of tall grasses, volcanoes, and tiki huts. The hotel features an even more questionable cast of characters that seem to spend more time in the resort’s thatched hut bar than on the beach. Rachel (Alison Luff), a workaholic environmental scientist, takes her best friend Tammy (Lisa Howard), engaged to yet another questionable and rather boorishly cartoonish character, to the resort where they meet Tully Mars (Paul Alexander Nolan), the resort’s talented entertainer-in-residence, and Brick (Eric Petersen), the bartender whose name belies his intelligence.

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Never mind that most people don’t go to the Caribbean for the volcanoes (begging the question are two shows with exploding volcanoes simply too much for one Broadway season?), just have a margarita and all will be well is the message here.

The onstage band, situated in its own tiki hut, is terrific but some of the songs seem shoehorned in and simply don’t work or even support the plot. Admittedly, with one exception, I wasn’t terribly familiar with the Jimmy Buffet catalog but the show did little to enhance my knowledge of it, as almost all of the songs revolve around drinking and little else. Indeed, the island’s tourism bureau could promote it as a place to forget about home and simply get drunk and screw, using the song “Why Don’t We Get Drunk (and Screw)?” as its anthem.

Of course, in the end, there’s a traditional island wedding celebration and, by that point, everyone has found his or her mate, a cause for much celebration and drinking (not that one needs an excuse for the latter of course).

As for the innkeeper, Marley (Ream Webb, whose very presence on stage makes up for myriad issues with the show) and the thousand thread-count sheets, her solution to keep guests happy is simple: she just puts five 200 thread-count sheets on the bed if a persnickety guest such as Rachel complains.

THE DETAILS

Escape to Margaritaville
Marquis Theatre
210 West 46 Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
www.escapetomargaritavillemusical.com

(Photos: Accura Media Group)

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