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In an Effort to Create a Positive Island Vibe, Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville Disappoints

DPAC will present Escape to Margaritaville, featuring Jimmy Buffett’s greatest hits, plus new original songs and book by Greg Garcia and Mike O’Malley, on Nov. 9-14, as part of Truist Broadway at DPAC (photo © Matthew Murphy)

Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville debuted at the Durham Performing Arts Center last night and, sadly, was a bit of a letdown. Let me say at the outset, that I am not a big fan of the music of Jimmy Buffett; however, I’m not sure that this presentation would appeal even to his most ardent fans.

I have absolutely no issue with the talents nor the efforts of the performers. Chris Clark (Tully) and Sarah Hinrichsen (Rachel) were solid in the lead roles. Emily Qualmann (Tammy) and Peter Michael Jordan (Brick) were even better as the main supporting characters. To me, the biggest problem was the material itself.

Escape to Margaritaville’s book, written by solid television writers and producers Greg Garcia (My Name Is Earl) and Mike O’Malley (Shameless) fails to inspire the audience in any way. There were a few laughs, but the sitcom-like rom-com story does not deliver any punch. The forcing of the action to fit the songs, or possibly delivering the songs to fit the action, only serves to weaken both.

Sarah Hinrichsen and Chris Clark star as Rachel and Tully in Escape to Margaritaville (photo © Matthew Murphy)

The play is set in a flawed resort, inhabited by flawed people who don’t seem to do much to improve their lot. There is also a fair amount of extraneous dialog that seems to exist exclusively to set up a song lyric much later in the show.

There is a lot of “just okay” here. Walt Spangler’s sets are uninspiring when compared to other shows. Andrew Turteltaub’s choreography was nearly nonexistent until a couple of numbers in the last third of the show. I really felt a bit sorry for the performers. I cannot even criticize the direction by Amy Anders Corcoran, based on the material.

<em>Escape to Margaritaville</em> stars Rachel Lyn Fobbs as Marley and Patrick Cogan as J.D. (photo &#169; Matthew Murphy)

Escape to Margaritaville stars Rachel Lyn Fobbs as Marley and Patrick Cogan as J.D. (photo © Matthew Murphy)

I assume that a truly die-hard, parrot-headed Jimmy Buffett fan might like this, but even the order of the songs was puzzling. The hits were spread throughout; but the last four or five numbers, when the story was coming to a resolution, were pretty bland.

I generally encourage people to take nearly any opportunity to see live theater and to bring their kids. Unfortunately, I just cannot recommend that in this case.

Escape to Margaritaville stars Rachel Lyn Fobbs and Matthew James Sherrod as Marley and Jamal (photo © Matthew Murphy)

Jimmy Buffett’s ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE (In Person at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10-14), presented as part of the Truist Broadway at DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham). TRAILER & VIDEOS: and DPAC NEWS RELEASE: OFFICIAL WEBSITES:,,,,, and TICKETS: $25 and up, plus taxes and ticket fees. Click here to buy tickets. GROUPS (10+ tickets): 919-680-2787,, and DIRECTIONS: PARKING: DPAC COVID-19 REQUIREMENTS: INFORMATION: 919-680-2787 or Susie Potter’s Review.


Robert O’Connell is a playwright, and has had dozens of productions and awards throughout the world. He has a MS degree in Management Systems Analysis. A lifelong educator, O’Connell has also published three novels at and two humor anthologies from his blog, He and his wife have settled in Cary, NC. Click here to read his reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.


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