Regional Reviews: Philadelphia
Jimmy Buffett's Escape to Margaritaville
The set-up is classic romantic comedy. Laid-back ladies man Tully sings and plays guitar at a touristy beach resort on the island of Margaritaville. Thanks to a steady influx of vacationers–and the help of his wing-man and bartender Brick–Tully has a new woman on his arm every week. Everything seems perfect until Rachel and Tammy show up on the island. Rachel is a serious scientist anxious to collect soil samples from around the local volcano while her best friend Tammy is just looking to have a good time before her wedding next week. Tully falls hard for Rachel and Brick is smitten with Tammy, but with Rachel's return home and Tammy's wedding on the horizon the future for both couples appears uncertain.
Matteo Scammell is naturally easygoing and undeniably charismatic as singer and guitarist Tully. I was worried that the "ladies man with a heart of gold" trope would feel dated or even cringy, but Scammell brings an earnest energy that makes it easy to understand why even serious and skeptical Rachel falls hard. Amanda Robles plays Rachel with an endearingly fierce attitude and strong vocals. Robles and Scammell have great chemistry, but I really love the way Kelly J. Mazzella and Zach Kononov play off each other as Tammy and Brick. Kononov's goofy appeal and Mazzella's excited nervousness are endearing. Bill Van Horn channels Jimmy Buffett perfectly as dude-master J.D., and Dana Orange is hilarious as Jamal and Ted.
Margaritaville is all about having fun, and director Stevens makes sure the production never takes itself too seriously. And the lively and energetic cast keeps the audience engaged throughout and brings real joy to Stevens' spirited choreography. Richard St. Clair's colorful costumes and Richard St. Clair's beachy sets create a vibrant island atmosphere that invites the to let loose and have a good time.
Through their interactions with each other and the island's natural beauty, the characters in Margaritaville learn to embrace a more relaxed and carefree way of life. It's not a trip to the Caribbean, but you just might leave the theater feeling more playful and unworried too.
Jimmy Buffett's Escape to Margaritaville runs through April 30, 2023, at the Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please call 215-574-3550 ext. 6 or visit walnutstreettheatre.org or ticketmaster.com.
Production and Design Team: