Jimmy Buffett’s ‘Escape to Margaritaville’ brings flip-flops, pop tops to Toby’s Dinner Theatre

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Escape to Margaritaville' at Toby's Dinner Theatre (Part 1)

It’s time to blow out your flip-flop, step on a pop top and find your lost shaker of salt!

Jimmy Buffett’s “Escape to Margaritaville” is now at Toby’s Dinner Theatre in Columbia, Maryland, through Aug. 20.

“If you love musical comedy, you’re gonna love ‘Escape to Margaritaville,’ it’s humorous, heartwarming, it’s zany,” Director Mark Minnick told WTOP. “If you’re a Parrot Head who loves Buffett music, then it’s a no-brainer and you don’t wanna miss ‘Escape to Margaritaville.’ … Fins up for the musical of the summer! The music will be playing, the drinks will be flowing and a great time will be had by all. I’m predicting a sellout, so people should get tickets now.”

Minnick says Toby’s actually got the idea to do the show from their Parrot Head bartender.

“I didn’t really lock into Buffett music until about five years ago,” Minnick said. “Our bartender, Shawn Kettering, he’s a huge Buffett fan. [In 2019] this show came to National Theatre and he said, ‘You’ve gotta see it, man, I love Jimmy Buffett, it’ll be great for our theater.’ I was like, ‘Really?’ So I went to the National and saw it and I said, ‘This show is zany and fun, the music is great, the audience loved it and I think this show is perfect for our theater.”

Written by Emmy winner Greg Garcia (”My Name is Earl”) and Emmy nominee Mike O’Malley (”Shameless”) for the 2018 Broadway show, the plot follows carefree crooner Tully Mars, who sings at a run-down hotel bar called Margaritaville on a small island in the Caribbean, welcoming various vacationers who are ready to party.

“It is an original musical theater piece; it’s not just a jukebox musical of Jimmy Buffett music,” Minnick said. “Two gals go and spend a bachelorette weekend at the Margaritaville Hotel & Resort Bar, then they meet a handsome singer and bartender and the rest is what musicals are made of. It takes off from there, there’s chaos, there’s a volcano on the island that erupts and ‘we … don’t … know’ how we’re going to solve that problem. The music fits.”

Expect all of your favorite Jimmy Buffett tunes, including “Margaritaville,” “Volcano,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Fins,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” “Son of a Son of a Sailor” and “Come Monday.”

“There is so much music that I did know, but some of the music in this show I had never heard before,” Minnick said. “There’s a song called ‘He Went to Paris’ that talks about one of the character’s lives. It’s the old guy who sits at the end of the bar drinking his life away and you just think he’s beach bum, but then you find out this guy has lived a life, and you learn that through the song. It’s one of the most beautiful moments in the show.”

Along with the tunes, you’ll also be visually transported to a tropical island.

“We have more lights in this building right now than we have ever had,” Minnick said. “I walked in and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this theater is popping.’ It truly felt like we were on this island resort. He has the palm trees in the corner surrounding a volcano, the bar is there. … It looks incredible. We are ready for fun, sun and a few margaritas!”

Best of all, the dinner buffet offers tropical food and drinks with Jimmy Buffett themes.

“You’re gonna have Margherita pasta, cheeseburger casserole,” Minnick said. “We’re featuring his beer, Land Shark Lager, then we’re going to have a lot of specialty margaritas … the Five O’Clock Somewhere, the One Particular Harbor, strawberry-mango margaritas. … There’s a joke about that in the show, too. She says, ‘I even fixed my favorite breakfast Buffett for you.” “I think you mean buffet.’ ‘No, I think you’re thinking of the singer.'”

Find more information here.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews 'Escape to Margaritaville' at Toby's Dinner Theatre (Part 2)

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Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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