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Photo: Jeremy Daniel

Cititour.com Review
It can be hard to tell what piles up faster – the bodies or the belly laughs in Disaster!, the cleverly campy spoof of everything 1970s which has now landed at the Nederlander Theatre. Admittedly, if you have no memories, fond or otherwise, of this decade, you might not want to board this ship, but everyone else is advised to walk the gangplank.

Yep, that metaphor is apt, since Disaster! takes place aboard the Barracuda, a cruise ship-cum casino docked on New York’s West Side in 1979 (an area which was its own kind of disaster, but I digress). This meant-to-be-pleasure boat (smartly if minimally designed by Tobin Ost) has been rushed to completion by sleazy developer Tony Delvecchio (a perfectly cast Roger Bart). Not surprisingly, his many, many shortcuts end up endangering all of his grand opening passengers, who must endure every tragedy imaginable (earthquake, tidal waves, piranhas, sharks, even rats) in order to survive!

That motley crew includes an assortment of familiar stereotypes, all brilliantly brought to life by a top-notch cast. Take Adam Pascal, still in remarkably robust voice two decades after he first stepped on the Nederlander stage in “Rent”, and the always adorable, strong-voiced Kerry Butler are former fiancees Chad and Marianne, who accidentally reunite aboard. There’s also Rachel York, who is simply sensational and sexy as dimwitted lounger singer Jackie, mom to towheaded tween twins Ben and Lisa (both played stunningly by newcomer Baylee Littrell); sweet Kevin Chamberlin as good-hearted husband Morty; sassy Lacretta Nicole as down-on-her-luck diva Levora; and co-author Seth Rudetsky as “humorless” if super-smart disaster expert Ted.

But the show’s shiniest stars are two ladies who could easily be competing against each other at Tony time. The beloved Faith Prince is nothing short of shameless as long-married housewife Shirley (think Shelley Winters in “The Poseidon Adventure”). Clad in her faux-Pucci (by the great William Ivey Long), she gets guffaws uttering a string of four-letter words and cheers with her dance moves. And the priceless Jennifer Simard is remarkably inventive and consistently hilarious as Sister Mary Downy, a seemingly meek singing nun with a deep gambling program. (What she does to slot machine is probably illegal in 47 states.)

As for the music, you could study the credits in the “Playbill” to find which 34 songs (mostly snippets) are ingeniously inserted into the snappy script by Rudetsky and director Jack Plotnick. But, especially if you know the music of the ‘70s, it’s more fun not to peek and make some highly educated guesses. (That said, some tunes you would expect don’t show up, and others have been pulled from the deepest archives). Meanwhile, JoAnn Hunter’s authentic choreography, performed primarily by an eight-person ensemble, would have you hustling and twirling in the aisles if that was permitted.

It might sound oxymoronic, but it’s almost impossible to imagine more of a feel-good show than “Disaster!”
By Brian Scott Lipton

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Roger Bart, Kerry Butler, Kevin Chamberlin, Adam Pascal, Faith Prince, Rachel York, Seth Rudetsky, Jennifer Simard, Max Crumm, Lacretta Nicole, Baylee Littrell

Open/Close Dates
Opening 3/8/2016
Closing 5/8/2016

Preview Open/ Preview Close Dates
Preview Opening 2/9/2016
Closing Open-ended

Box Office

Theatre Info
Nederlander Theatre
208 West 41st Street
New York, NY 10036