From the Chicago Sun-Times: “‘Margaritaville’ taking Jimmy Buffett’s Parrothead vibe to Broadway”
Buffett, who calls Sag Harbor, Long Island, home these days, laughs knowingly when it is suggested that in many ways he has far more in common with the character of Rachel than Tully. For in addition to a busy concert touring schedule that takes him to Europe and beyond, he has long been a successful businessman, with chains of restaurants keyed to his song’s themes, licensed products for everything from tequila to chips and guacamole, a beer deal with Anheuser-Busch, a casino-hotel in Atlantic City, and a $1 billion retirement village in Daytona Beach, Florida, now in the works. He also is involved in many charitable efforts, supporting ecological and marine laboratory projects and more recently raising money for hurricane relief.
But it is Broadway that calls to him.
“My love of musical theater dates back far longer than my interest in the music I am known for,” said Buffett, during a chat in Chicago. “I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, where my working mother, who had three kids, performed as part of the Mobile Theatre Guild, and she would drag me along to play children’s roles — like the little French-Polynesian boy in ‘South Pacific’ — and I kind of liked it. She also took me to see the road shows that came through town. I learned everything I know from Rodgers and Hammerstein — the way those songs go into your heart, the way the lyrics are like poetry but always driving the story and sounding authentic to the characters. I was a child of the television age, but I loved the live entertainment form.”
“I still remember the first time I saw ‘The Who’s Tommy’ on Broadway, and the original ‘Evita’ with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin,” said Buffett. “And I began wondering if I could make a musical out of my own music, although I knew the challenge of doing it would be to be true to my audience as well as to connect to a new one.”
Buffett’s first (if unsuccessful ) attempt at a Broadway musical was two decades ago when he collaborated with Herman Wouk (fabled author of “The Caine Mutiny”), to create a musical based on Wouk’s book, “Don’t Stop the Carnival.” A paradise-turns-into-hell comedy about a man escaping to the Caribbean to salve a midlife crisis, it played for six weeks in Miami and closed, but Buffett turned it into an album.
‘ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE’
When: Nov. 9 – Dec. 2
Where: Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph
Tickets: $33 – $120