Embracing the chill in Jimmy Buffett's 'Escape to Margaritaville'

Thursday, 22 June 2017, 05:51:54 PM. 'Escape to Margaritaville,' Jimmy Buffett, La Jolla Playhouse, Christopher Ashley
“License to Chill,” the opening number in “Escape to Margaritaville,” the new dopey-fun Broadway-bound musical that strings together Jimmy Buffett’s relaxed and randy songs, could serve as the show’s mission statement. Although I was stone cold sober, I am fairly certain that alcohol could only have an improving effect on this kind of entertainment. Margaritas were being served at La Jolla Playhouse, where the show is having its world premiere, and the lines for refueling during intermission seemed unusually raucous for a Sunday matinee. Regardless of what anyone was drinking, the high spirits were infectious. But let me come clean about something: I am not the musical’s target audience. Before seeing the show, I couldn’t tell you the title of one Buffett song, though naturally when I heard “Margaritaville,” the number that closes the first act, I lip-synced along with the rest of the audience, the lyrics implanted in my brain through cultural osmosis. Jukebox musicals, with few exceptions, depress me. (If I had to pay for tickets, I’d see on average zero a year.) “Escape to Margaritaville” follows the IKEA-factory example of “Mamma Mia!” Buffett contributed a few new songs for the show, but the book by TV writers Greg Garcia (“Yes, Dear,” “My Name Is Earl” and “Raising Hope”) and Mike O’Malley (“Survivor’s Remorse,” “Shameless”) is a sitcom contraption designed to contain as many hits as possible. True to its title, “Escape to Margaritaville” is pure escapism. These things...Read more
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