Winter may be around the corner but Jimmy Buffett fans will find plenty summer vibes to enjoy when they see “Escape to Margaritaville” – the 2017 musical now running at the Durham Performing Arts Center through this Sunday. This musical is not a biopic about Buffett, instead it’s more of a rom-com set-up to deliver a healthy dose of all your favorite Buffett songs set to a storyline inspired by his music.
The main story centers around carefree singer-songwriter, Tully Mars (Chris Clark) working as the resident musical entertainment in the Tiki bar at the “it looked better online” Margaritaville Resort on an unnamed Caribbean island. His laidback life consists of singing his songs and romancing one female tourist after another during their brief visits to the island, and happily saying goodbye to each woman after her short stay has come to an end. His side-kick is Brick (Peter Michael Jordan), the bartender who proves to be a loveable character but not nearly as smooth with the ladies as Tully.
Two women on a bachelorette getaway from Cincinnati, Rachel (played by Sarah Hinrichsen), an all too serious environmental scientist, and her friend Tammy (Emily Qualmann) who is just days away from an ill-advised marriage to marrying a real jerk arrive on the island and end up flirting with Tully and Brick and that’s where the sparks begin to fly. But is it really meant to be or is it just another short lived vacation island romance?
Although all of the actors did a phenomenal job in this production, the two that stood out the most were Qualmann, who played Tammy, and Jordan, who played Brick. Although they both had only supporting roles, their performances were the ones that really stole the show form me, they had the most chemistry on stage and I found myself more invested in their story than those of the leads.
For all the clichés, there are some truly funny moments including a tap number involving the ghosts of dead insurance agents. In the end, what really makes this show work is the excellent choreography and dancing by the ensemble cast and the fact that the story doesn’t take itself too seriously. Escape to Margaretville provides a fun laid-back island themed evening embodying the Jimmy Buffett Lifestyle depicted in his music.
Escape to Margaritaville is playing now through Sunday, November 14th at DPAC. For tickets visit: https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/tootsie