Get Ready to Hear a Boatload of Jimmy Buffett Songs in Escape to Margaritaville

Alison Luff and Paul Nola in Escape to Margaritaville.
Alison Luff and Paul Nola in Escape to Margaritaville. Photo by Matthew Murphy

click to enlarge Alison Luff and Paul Nola in Escape to Margaritaville. - PHOTO BY MATTHEW MURPHY
Alison Luff and Paul Nola in Escape to Margaritaville.
Photo by Matthew Murphy
The song list is classic, its entries ranging from plaintive to hilarious with everything from "Come Monday" to "A Cheeseburger in Paradise," from "A Pirate Looks at Forty" to "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" all the way to "Margaritaville" (who knew salt could be so important?).

Jimmy Buffett's universe since he broke out in style in the mid-1970s seems tailor-made for a musical, and now there is one. Escape to Margaritaville is coming to the Hobby Center courtesy of Broadway Across America, with the hopes of taking the tour all the way to a Broadway stage.

Buffett's songs, classic, less well-known and new, are backed up by some other serious talent in the project. The book is by Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl) and Mike O'Malley (Survivor's Remorse, Shameless); it's directed by Tony Award-winning Christopher Ashley. Choreography is by Tony nominee Kelly Devine.

The story is basically this: Alison Luff (Broadway revival of Les Misérables as Fantine as well as Miss Honey in Matilda on Broadway) plays Rachel, a workaholic environmental scientist, who comes to an island paradise and discovers there’s other, more important things in life to not worry about.

Before one show in California, people tailgated outside the theater.

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But seeing as she's a woman, how does she sing songs from the perspective of a Jimmy Buffett? They worked around that in various ways, Luff says. "Some of the lyrics are changed in a few of the tunes, but my character obviously evolves past workaholic and some of his tunes fit with my character a bit more." And sometimes she's singing his songs about other people in the musical.

Luff, who grew up in the Houston area and graduated from Klein Collins High School before moving to New York City, says the show has a wide appeal across the generations. “There’s definitely lines and innuendos that Parrotheads will get. And just the recognition of the songs and the freedom for the audience to sing along and not take the show too seriously and enjoy themselves,” she says.

Before their show in La Jolla, California, people tailgated outside the theater, she says, and she won’t be surprised if something similar occurs here. Houston bartenders might want to take notice and lay in a stock of rum and tequila for the six-day run here.

Performances are scheduled for October 31 through November 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday and Sunday; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-315-2525 or visit $35-$165.
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
Contact: Margaret Downing