Except for sort of knowing about Jimmy Buffet and loving his joyous song "Margaritaville," I arrived at the Dolby Theatre to celebrate the Nederlander Organization's new venue in Hollywood. That the production opens on the heels of the Oscar Awards also added luster to the evening.
It was obvious that I was among the minority as many in the audience arrived decked out in Hawaiian shirts and colorful flowered print dresses for the occasion. To add to the vibe, "leis" were handed out to help get people in the island mood.
Opening with a spirited "License to Chill," there was no doubt that this would be a party night.
The young cast didn't miss a beat and kept the high energy pace going throughout the show. Principals Chris Clark (Tully) and Sara Hinrichsen (Rachel) voices and delivery were spot on. Best friends, Shelly Lynn Walsh (Tammy) and Peter Michael Jordan (Brick) provide just the right amount of comic relief. Added to the mix Rachel Lyn Fobbs (Marley) and Patrick Cogan (J.D.) depicting the more "senior" cast members, add to the levity and help move the story along.
The story has a bit of a twist with Tully happily being a vacation romance for a turnstile of women visitors to Margaritaville until he meets the workaholic Rachel. One thing leads to another, girl gets boy, boy loses girl because of different lifestyle priorities. Needless to say, after 30 buffet tunes interspersed with just enough dialogue to keep track of the story, it all works out in the end.
I don't know if director Amy Anders Corcoran's BA in psychology helped her sort out the relationships among the key characters, but her theatrical skills added up to a most satisfying show.
Audience members young and old alike knew the song lyrics when they were encouraged to sing along. Ensemble numbers were everything you'd expect from a musical with fun dance routines ranging from familiar calypso themes to tap dancing choreographed by Kelly Devine. Definitely a fun evening and one that boomers can share and use to bond with their (older) teen grandkids.
Opening night guests were thrilled with a curtain call appearance and reprise of "Margaritaville" by none other than the icon himself, Jimmy Buffet.
All added up to a fun opening night for The Dolby and Hollywood.