“Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville” is a jukebox musical where the book by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley is secondary to the music and lyrics of the popular singer, Jimmy Buffett. Most of the songs are taken from his music catalogue but some were written by Buffett specifically for the show. Best known for “Margaritaville,” “Come Monday,” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” Buffet has produced 50 album, his concerts always sell out, and his fans are known as “parrotheads.”
The plot is an old-fashioned girl-meets-boy love story. On an island in the Caribbean, local musician Tully (Partick Glover) is a bit of a lothario but soon falls in love with tourist, Rachel (Kathleen West). She’s not ready for that kind of commitment and is focused on career first. The side plot revolves around another couple, Brick (Jordan B. Stockdale) and Tammy (Anna Phillips-Brown). Tammy is supposed to marry an unfeeling chauvinist. On her bridal weekend with Rachel, she meets nice guy Brick and they fall in love. I’m not giving too much away much when I say everyone lives happily ever after.
Mark Minnick’s direction and choreography are the best reasons for coming to Toby’s…great harmony, wonderful dancing, and the mellow feeling of Buffett’s music.
Patrick Gover is a local Howard County talent with plenty of stage presence and movie-star good looks. He brings just the right laid-back tranquility to Buffett’s music to enjoy his renditions of “Margaritaville,” “A Pirate Looks a 40,” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”
Kathleen West believably shows Rachel’s transition from a goal-oriented person to one who decides there are more important things in her life. She and Tammy reveal their change in outlook with “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” As Tully’s buddy and the island bartender Brick, Stockdale, with Phillips-Brown, provide some great comic relief in “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”
Robert Biedermann plays JD, an old-timer on the island. Although the role is mostly done for humor, he gets to show a little bit of JD’s compassionate history and memories as he sings his solo part in “A Pirate Looks at 40.”
Two other stand-outs in the cast are Asia-Ligé Arnold as Marley, the owner of the island hotel and restaurant/bar and Anwar Thomas as Jamal the waiter. The two, along with Biedermann, lead the cast in the joyful opening of Act II “Volcano.”
Mark Minnick’s direction and choreography are the best reasons for coming to Toby’s with wonderful ensemble numbers. From “A License to Chill” at the start of the show to the “Finale,” you get everything you expected—great harmony, wonderful dancing, and the mellow feeling of Buffett’s music. The ensemble is comprised of very talented singers and dancers, many of whom have had important roles in other productions at Toby’s.
Ross Scott Rawlings is the long-time musical director and conductor at the theatre. He and his musicians have always consistently delivered great orchestrations. “Escape to Margaritaville” needs to have the amiability of Buffett’s music and Rawlings recreates that feeling.
David A. Hopkins’ scenic and lighting design helps transport us to the tropical island where we all wish we could go to tomorrow. Even the volcanic eruption is mellow. Johnny Pantazis’ sound design blends the on-stage guitar playing perfectly with the music of the orchestra.
If you are looking to sit back, relax, and have a margarita (or whatever you like to drink to chill out), head on down to Toby’s Dinner Theater where you can break free of the doldrums of summer and “Escape to Margaritaville.” Remember, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes with one intermission.
Advisory: This show contains mild language and adult innuendos. Fog, haze, and strobe effects may be used in this production.
“Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville” runs through August 20, 2023 at Toby’s Dinner Theatre, 5900 Symphony Wood’s Road, Columbia, MD 21044. Tickets can be purchased directly through the Box Office by calling 410-730-8311. Box Office hours: Sunday – Monday 10am- 8pm. Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 9pm or by going online. The price of a ticket includes a dinner buffet for evening shows and Wednesday matinees and a brunch for Sunday matinees. There are some Caribbean flavors to the food and drinks. There are no Covid restrictions.