Disaster! – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

If you were offered a free ticket for a boat ride on the Titanic, how quickly would you run to pack a bag? With tornadoes in Connecticut and volcanoes erupting in Hawaii and Guatemala, the world seems to be sending a clear message to stay safely in your bed under the covers. Yet what could go wrong with a coveted invitation to attend the 1979 opening of a Manhattan casino and discotheque? What if one catastrophe goes viral into many? Feeling brave?

The Connecticut Repertory Theatre has a special treat for hearty souls, ones whose health and life insurance are paid up, for “Disaster!” The Musical Comedy playing until Saturday, June 16 at UCONN’s Jorgensen Theatre on the Storrs campus. Gather all your rabbit’s feet and four leaf clovers, not to mention cloves of garlic -just in case-for this adventurous romp in the world of Murphy’s Law where whatever can go wrong, does.

This is a wild, wet and wonderful show at its sterling best. Created by the comic genius of Jack Plotnick and Seth Rudetsky, with Drew Geraci, “Disaster!” is great energetic fun, a blast to the past, with 70’s music at every devious and dangerous turn. Be ready to boogie before the curtain even goes up and you find yourself on stage doing the hustle or the frug, thanks to Mary Ann Lamb’s enthusiastic choreography.

Nick Nudler’s Tony is the proud but unscrupulous owner of the new casino, a manipulating charmer who convinces Jackie, a smooth singing Angie Schworer, to be his featured torch entertainer at no pay. Believing she loves Tony, Jackie gives her star power freely, while caring for her twin kids, both adorably payed by Sana ”Prince” Sarr.

More love interests are played by the eager newspaper reporter Marianne, an eager Alyah Scott, and her jilted fiancé/waiter Chad, a hopeful Ben Jackson Walker, as well as the happily married couple Maury,a devoted Griffin Binnicker and Shirley, his secret keeping wife Anne L. Nathan. Seth Rudetsky has a lot of fun running around as the prophet of doom, a disaster expert who predicts earthquakes and tidal waves and advises making reservations for the life boats NOW.

Toss in a gambling addicted nun brought to life by Maggie McDowell, a waiter named Scott, Simon Longnight, who wants to be a chick magnet and a sassy Levora Varona, Leanne Antonio, who with her pup wants to have a good time. The grand ensemble also includes Sasha Renee Brown, Spencer LaRue, Michael Katz and Hayden Elizabeth Price.

Jack Plotnick directs this musical comedy stuffed with the time’s best tunes, like a juke box unleashed, such as “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Knock on Wood,” “Reunited,” “I Am Woman” and “Feelings,” all inserted at appropriate moments in the action.

For tickets ($48 and up), call the Connecticut Repertory Theatre at the Jorgensen at 860-486-2113 or online at www.crt.uconn.edu. Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

With a gracious nod to disaster movies of the past, be prepared for nature’s wrath unleashed and don’t forget your life preservers!

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