Walnut Street Theatre (WST) finishes its 214th season by transforming into a tropical paradise with Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville. This heartwarming musical comedy features Jimmy Buffett’s unmistakable music and is sure to delight fans old and new! Escape to Margaritaville begins previews on March 28, opens April 5, and –just announced – is extended through April 30, 2023. The production is directed and choreographed by Lisa Stevens.
Kick off your flip flops and set your clock to island time, as the Walnut is transformed into a tropical paradise where love and laughter are the keys to ‘growing older but not up.’ Leading our visit is Tully, a part-time bartender, part-time singer, and full-time charmer who thinks he’s got life all figured out—until a beautiful tourist steals his heart and makes him question everything. ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE is a heartwarming musical featuring both original songs and your most-loved Jimmy Buffett classics, including “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Fins,” “Volcano,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and many more!
The Walnut’s production will feature a cast of 22 performers and a live orchestra. Using the ever popular and infectious music of Jimmy Buffett to weave together this heartwarming book is Greg Garcia, known for the syndicated comedies of Yes, Dear, My Name is Earl, and Raising Hope, and Mike O’Malley, creator of the award-winning television series Survivor’s Remorse and Shameless. Making her Walnut debut as director and choreographer is Lisa Stevens. Stevens’ credits include 9 to 5 The Musical (West End, London, UK, and Australian companies), Anyone Can Whistle (Off-West End, London), and The Little Prince (Theatre Calgary).Chris Burcheri returns as music and vocal director, having also performed that role in Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Rocky, the Musical. He has also served as music director for the WST for Kids series and the associate conductor on Annie and Holiday Inn.
Making his return to WST in the role of the smooth-talking Tully is Philly-based award-winning actor Matteo Scammell. Scammell is a graduate of the University of the Arts (UArts) and was last seen on the Walnut stage in Other Desert Cities. He is a company member of New Paradise Laboratories and of Wilma Theater’s acting ensemble, HotHouse. Making her Walnut debut as Rachel, an ambitious scientist desperately trying to find the work-life balance, is Amanda Robles. Also a UArts graduate, Robles’ credits include Vanessa in In the Heights (Stages St. Louis and Westport Country Playhouse), Aldonza in Man of La Mancha (Stages St. Louis), and Cinderella in Into the Woods (Barrington Stage Co.).
Joining Robles in their Walnut debut as Rachel’s loyal friend and fun-seeker Tammy is Kelly J. Mazzella. Recent credits include Sound of Music, Man of La Mancha, and The Play that Goes Wrong at Fulton Theatre. Also making their Walnut debut playing Tully’s sensitive and thoughtful friend Brick is Zach Kononov. Kononov’s credits include The Spongebob Musical and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (National Tours). Making their return to the Walnut as Marley, the no-nonsense resort owner, is Demetria Joyce Bailey. Audiences will remember Bailey from her WST debut as Mrs. Phelps in Matilda the Musical. Returning as the funny, endearing J.D. is Walnut favorite Bill Van Horn. Horn has performed in, written, and directed many shows at WST and most recently premiered his stage adaptation of Sherlock Holmes’ The Adventure of the Speckled Band. Additional recent credits include Rocky, the Musical, The Little Mermaid, A Woman of No Importance, and Annie. Playing the roles of Jamal/Ted and Chadd are returning Walnut favorites Dana Orange and Dante Brattelli. Orange and Brattelli were last seen in WST’s season opening knockout Rocky, the Musical.
Returning to the Walnut to form an ensemble of Goons, Vacation Guests, and more are Audrey Biehl Simmons (Cinderella, Shrek) who doubles as the production’s Dance Captain, Alexandra Frohlinger (Cinderella, The Little Mermaid), Rachael Britton Hart (The Little Mermaid), Adam Mandala (Cinderella, Rocky, The Little Mermaid), Kimberly Maxson (Shrek, Holiday Inn, Mamma Mia!), Andrew Natale Ruggierei (South Pacific), Devon Sinclair (Cinderella, The Little Mermaid) and Jon Yepez (Cinderella). The Walnut welcomes Taylor Hilt Mitchell, as they make their WST debuts in the ensemble.
Scenic Designer Brian Froonjian (Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Speckled Band, Always…Patsy Cline), who also serves as the Walnut’s technical director, transforms the Walnut stage into a tropical paradise. Froonjian will be joined by returning Lighting Designer Matthew DeMascolo (Cinderella, Always…Patsy Cline, Beehive), and Wig and Makeup Designer Carissa Thorlakson (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cinderella, Rocky) who will be ensuring everyone onstage is looks their tropical best. Making their respective Walnut debuts are Sound Designer Alex Brock (recent credits include Becomes a Woman, Weightless; Off-Broadway) and Costume Designer Richard St. Clair, who audiences might recognize from his work with Opera Philadelphia, the Curtis Music Institute, and the Arden Theatre Company.
Jimmy Buffet’s Escape to Margaritaville begins March 28 and is now extended through April 30, 2023. Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, April 16, 7pm performance. This production is sponsored by Herman Goldner Co., LLC, AQUA, and Parx Casino. Media Sponsors are 6ABC, Metro Philadelphia, and Philadelphia Inquirer. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.