The National Theatre in Washington, D.C. will be presenting “Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville” from October 8-October 13, 2019. The musical’s book is by Emmy Award winner Greg Garcia and Emmy nominee, Mike O’Malley. The production features many original songs of the iconic Jimmy Buffet and includes many of his classics, including the title song as well as “Fins,” “Volcano” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” It is a musical that will “help you get away from it all and find the unexpected.”
This version of “Jimmy Buffet’s Escape to Margaritaville” is based on the original direction by Tony Award-winner Christopher Ashley (Come from Away). This production is under the helm of Amy Anders Corcoran with Choreography by Kelly Devine and associate choreography by Andrew Turteltaub. The play opened in 2017 at the La Jolla Playhouse and opened on Broadway in 2018.
The musical stars Chris Clark (Tully), Sarah Hinrichsen (Rachel), Shelly Lynn Walsh (Tammy), Peter Michael Jordan (Brick), Rachel Lyn Fobbs (Marley), Patrick Cogan (J.D.), and Matthew James Sherrod (Jamal/Ted).
I had a chance to interview Shelly Lynn Walsh who plays Tammy.
Bio: Off-Broadway: “Sistas The Musical” (Heather) St. Luke’s Theatre; Regional Theatre: “Always Patsy Cline” (Patsy Cline) Sky Stages, Blackrock PAC, “Funny Girl” (Maude, Fanny Brice U/S), Forestburgh Playhouse;, “Footloose” (Wendy-Jo), Interlakes Summer Theatre; “Bye Bye Birdie (Gloria Rasputin/Penelope), “Crazy For You” (Patricia Fodor), Newsies (Ensemble), Forestburgh Playhouse; Education Theatre: “The Tempest” (Antonia), “Inherit the Wind” (Drummond), “She Kills Monsters” (Lilith/Lily), “Last Days of Pompeii” (Witch of Vesuvius), Rider University
Training: Rider University – BFA Musical Theatre
- Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Ohhhh yes! I grew up in Loudon County, specifically South Riding, Virginia! I went to the public Freedom High School, which had an amazing theatre program that I am endlessly grateful for. My family still lives in NOVA while I have made my way to New York City, but I am always so happy to be back in the Lovers’ state. I would LOVE to tell everyone that New York travel to work is, in fact, EASIER and faster than Virginia. Who would have known? Put the question to rest!
- When and why did you decide to become a musical theatre performer?
I knew I wanted to be an actor after one of my most well-known roles to date, an Oompa Loompa in “Willy Wonka in the Chocolate Factory” in middle school. All jokes aside I attribute most, if not all, of my passion for performing to two of my middle school theatre teachers who believed in me and lifted me up throughout those early and extremely important years. I had a lot of incredible teachers and mentors throughout my life who truly believed in me and lead me down my path. Not everyone was supportive, but the people who were, were the ones I remember; my middle school drama teachers, my parents, my high school directors, my voice teacher. They all hold an instrumental part in my success. Throughout my performing thus far. I have learned to appreciate the big roles, live in the smaller roles and be thankful for any roles. Ultimately, Arts within the school system is what gave me my passion. Arts are the most important outlet in any child’s growth, and I will stand by the fact that they made me who I am today!
- Beside your present role, which one is your favorite and why?
Ohhh, this is my favorite question but also the most difficult. So. I’m going to cheat and say two! In college, I was really lucky and got to play a role originally written for a man and transform it into an incredibly empowering female character in the play, “Inherit the Wind.” That was probably the most rewarding role I have ever played. But I can never forget my first opportunity to perform near my home when I was cast as Patsy Cline in a production of “Always Patsy Cline” with Free Range Humans this past summer. Singing Patsy Cline’s music, with a full live band under the stars was an experience to remember for sure!
- Can you tell us a bit about your role as Tammy in “Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville?”
My girl!! Tammy is one of the strongest women I have ever had the privilege to play. During the show, you get to watch her go through this journey of realizing she deserves better than what she is settling for and push past the negativity being thrown at her. Honestly, the negativity that is being thrown at her is very much like what most women struggle within their everyday life. That storyline along with the ridiculously entertaining music Jimmy has gifted us with makes it quite the theatre experience. Her journey that she shares with the other characters on stage is so rewarding and, most importantly, relatable! There is a part of Tammy in all of us. and it makes it just so amazing to watch.
- Were you a fan of Jimmy Buffet before this? What are some of your favorite Buffet songs?
Honestly, and I will tell Jimmy this, I didn’t know many of his songs before we started the show. BUT, we (my family) knew and loved songs like “Five O’clock Somewhere” and “Margaritaville”! Once I was cast in the show, I immersed myself in the world of Jimmy’s music. and I heard songs I had no idea he wrote. My love for his music is a new love but a great one, I must say. In the context of the show, my favorite songs are “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Coast of Marseilles,” two very different songs but equally amazing in their own way!
For information and Tickets on “Jimmy Buffet’s Escape to Margaritaville” go to the National Theater’s website and also view the listing of their upcoming shows.