By Sandi Durell
Get ready to party on the gambling vessel Barracuda with its cast of “Hot Stuff” characters in this bigger, more extravagant Broadway version that gives a wink and a nod to the many tacky Hollywood Disaster films of the 70s (Earthquake, Towering Inferno, Poseidon Adventure) as everyone bursts into disco and pop music of the era to tell the story at the Nederlander Theater. Written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick, it’s silly time gone amuck in this ultra-campy rendering.
The original incarnation at St. Luke’s Theatre last season was a much stripped down version, while this enlarged stage allows for many more visual stunts and some highly physical dance routines choreographed by JoAnn M. Hunter. The glitzy, garish costumes are by the one and only William Ivey Long, while the set design, by Tobin Ost, is expertly lit by Jeff Croiter.
Basically, the simple story is about a cheapskate, sleaze hustler-womanizer Tony (Roger Bart) who’s cut so many corners on this floating glitz of a boat, docked for its inaugural opening, that when poker-faced disaster expert Prof. Ted Scheider (Seth Rudetsky) comes to warn about an approaching earthquake, he pays little attention.
Welcome the larger-than-life cast of merrymakers who keep you company for the two plus hours and provide some side-splitting laughs and sight gags; the Nun with a gambling addiction, the incomparable standout Jennifer Simard who literally falls for the new Hawaii Five-O slot machine and “Never Can Say Goodbye” (no, no, no); the glorious voiced Adam Pascal, as Chad the waiter, who reunites with his former love interest Marianne, the snoopy suspicious reporter, played by favorite soprano Kerry Butler as their relationship, past and present, unfolds in snippets of song – “Feelings,” “You’re Still the One,” “And I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” “Without You,” “Reunited,” “I Am Woman”. . . you get the picture.
Long-legged Rachel York plays Jackie the not too brainy nightclub queen who sings and dances up a storm on board for free, hoping that Tony will marry her and provide some stability for her twin son and daughter, amusingly played by Baylee Littrell, a quick-style gender changer.
The retired Jewish couple from Queens, Maury (a delightful Kevin Chamberlin) and Shirley (talented Faith Prince) who taps it up with the best of them especially when Morse Code messages are needed to contact the love couple trapped below when the boat turns upside down. Shirley is suffering from a rare form of cancer, the symptoms include winking eyes, pelvic spasms and Tourette outbursts (which is why she’s constantly stuffing her Pucci printed scarf in her mouth). Disco queen powerhouse, Levora (a sassy, brassy Lacretta Nicole) gets her turn to shine. Chad’s sidekick bumbling waiter friend, Scott, is played by likeable Max Crumm.
The rats and piranhas run wild along with the cast and the spoofy silliness tends to wear a little thin come Act 2, but you’ll definitely be “Hooked on a Feeling.”
Photos: Jeremy Daniel
Disaster – The Nederlander Theater, 208 West 41 Street, running time 2 hrs. 5 min. www.disastermusical.com