Review: Escape to Margaritaville

This past Thursday, I boarded a bus for my biweekly weekend trip to dazzling New York City to review their sprawling music scene. After two nights of hole-in-the-wall bars, listening to soulless young spirits sulk and bob to in melodramatic time to lackluster baselines, I found myself scouring the notoriously tawdry streets of New York for anything that would breathe life back into my ears and my hips that hurt from walking between so many performances.  Somehow, every time I enter the twisted labyrinth of the City, I find myself steps away from Times Square. It’s never bode well before, but something was in the air tonight– margaritas? A few short blocks off of the giant porch light that attracts thousands of moth-tourists, Broadway’s hidden gem was gently pulling me with tropical music that reminded me both of my youth and the warm days for which I now yearned. Move over Chicago, featuring the music of Jimmy Buffett, Escape to Margaritaville: The Musical is Broadway’s new “sure thing.”

No expenses were spared in welcoming me to the tropics upon my arrival. The wait staff of three separate tiki bars, adorned in Hawaiian shirts I must add, served frozen margaritas in cups that guests could take into the show. I grabbed my drink and stifled my urge to linger at New York’s hottest tropical resort. Heading to my seat, I was satisfied that my expectations had already been met. Comfortable, tipsy, and sweating lightly with anticipation, curtains rose; childhood wonder inflated my eyes to the size of beach balls. 

The entire cast belted “License to Chill,” complete with a intoxicatingly choreographed dance that made me feel like I knew every step. Classics like “Fins” and “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” seamlessly furthered major plot points, describing the main female characters’ overwhelming need to settle their racing minds and highlighting their vulnerability to men with empathy and charisma. The electric cast performances speckled with emotional duets and tantalizing twists on the Songs We Know By Heart left me yearning for a fulfilled romance and a fourth margarita by act two. 

After intermission, I was emotional, distressed- the volcano, the romance, THE MARGARITAS! But my my troubles rolled by as Broadway’s most talented vocalists prodded the Buffett mindset. I was reminded of what I loved about music, what I craved when I entered this career: passion, emotion, spirit, the ability to transport, transform, grapefruit, bathing suits, juicy fruit. Minor characters became fan-favorites with passionate pleas to treasure life and hold onto notalgia. But no ode to Jimmy Buffett can be complete without a rendition of “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” rephrased into a passionate duet of defiance and forbidden love. In the end, the finale in its roundabout love story and absolutely mandatory crowd-participation brought me to a state of euphoria that lasted the night. 

Six margaritas in, fully immersed in my paradise, I pried myself out of my seat, past the tiki bars, and back into the bustling city, head swirling with sunshine and palm trees. If you ever find yourself in the gloomy metropolitan, swing by paradise– Broadway’s next sure thing. 

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