BY SANTI GABINO JR.
Get ready to rock the boat! It’s time to ditch those fancy shoes and slip on your flip-flops! Say goodbye to the stiff suit and tie, and unleash your inner (tropical) fashionista, with a crazy Hawaiian shirt or perhaps an insanely loud muumuu!
Brace yourselves, because Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville is about to drop anchor at the Athens Theatre in DeLand from Friday, July 14, through Sunday, Aug. 6, kicking off the Athen’s 2023-24 season with the most epic party of the year!
Forget about winter, spring, summer and fall — we all know that living in Florida means there’s a fifth season: Jimmy Buffett season!
His music is like an eternal summer vacation, available whenever we need a tropical getaway, whether it’s for a long weekend or just a few stolen moments. When Jimmy starts playing, you can create your very own One Particular Harbour, whether you’re stuck in traffic, working on a deadline, or sitting (dancing?) in your living room!
Prepare to be transported on a margarita-fueled adventure, guided by Buffett’s timeless hits, in this musical extravaganza. It’s a journey that combines laughter, love and more fun than you can shake your maracas at, all against the backdrop of a jaw-dropping, exotic paradise.
Directed by Becca Southworth, who was last at the helm of Some Enchanted Evening, with music direction by Central Florida favorite Chris Endsley (Hairspray, Spamalot, Cabaret, Legally Blond and Sister Act); choreography by Allison Maxwell (Shrek, Mama Mia! and Scrooge, the Musical); sets by Michael Brewer and Tori Oakes; costumes by Tamara Marke Lares; and lights by Nick Hogan, this production sparkles with experienced creativity.
Leading the cast, and at the heart of it all, is Tully (played by Christopher Fahmie, recently seen as Richard the Lionheart in Lion in Winter and as a naughty vampire prince in Nosferatu).
Ah, Tully! The beachcomber extraordinaire with a perma-smile and a laid-back attitude that even the swaying palm trees can’t match. He’s the living embodiment of the island spirit — the Sultan of Sandals, the coconut connoisseur and the ambassador of good vibes, with a laugh as infectious as a chorus of steel drums. His carefree nature is like a refreshing dip in gin-clear waters.
Tully’s opposite is Rachel, a workaholic and self-proclaimed professional stress machine, who’s about to have her world turned upside down in the most delightful way. Rachel is played by Abigail Morgan (previously in Athens’ Hunchback of Notre Dame). She reluctantly finds herself at the Margaritaville Hotel, dragged there by her best friend, Tammy (Katy Reiss), who is savoring her last taste of freedom before she waltzes down the aisle with her overbearing fiancé Chadd (played by Jot Gault, who was in Athens productions of Young Frankenstein, A Chorus Line, Ragtime, Holiday Inn and Rock of Ages).
As the sun turns up the heat and the tempting Caribbean waters beckon, these two women unexpectedly find themselves tangled up with Tully and his merry troubadour sidekick, Brick (Gabriel Quijano, in his Athens debut). Sparks fly, passions ignite and, well, let’s just say things get hot — molten even!
The sensational Michael Funaro will be bringing the stage to life as JD, master of storytelling and raconteur extraordinaire. He was most recently on the Athens stage as Scrooge in Scrooge, the Musical, along with several other Athens productions, such as King Arthur in Spamalot, Sweeney Todd, Les Misérables and Inherit the Wind.
The role of Marley, island innkeeper, and the one who makes sure sanity still prevails among all guests and employees, is played by Brittany Nicole Lewis, and the uproarious Jy’Ireze Bell-Bennett plays Jamal, the embodiment of carefree hilarity as the mischievous busboy.
On the evening of July 14 (and in true Jimmy Buffett fashion), join us for our opening-night tailgate celebration! We’ll be celebrating all things Jimmy, with live preshow island music, food, drinks, games, and so much more beginning at 5:30 p.m.!
Let your worries drift away like footprints in the sand, as you prepare to indulge in the enchanting magic of the islands. It’s time to savor every delicious moment, just like sinking your teeth into a mouthwatering … cheeseburger in paradise. Be prepared to get wasted away again in Margaritaville, because when it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, the party is just getting started!
Tickets and more information can be found at www.AthensDeLand.com, or by calling the box office at 386-736-1500.