What do you get when you combine a deep love for 1970’s disaster pictures, more disco anthems than could ever be played in the VIP lounge area of Studio 54 and a writer whose tongue is planted firmly and deeply in his wicked cheek? The answer is Disaster the musical, now playing at the Edge Theater by the Chicago Theatre Workshop troupe. Making its Windy City debut, directed by Ben Baylon and written by Broadway cabaret sensation Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnicks, Disaster is designed to not be taken too seriously. This toe-tapping spoof of the 1970’s disaster picture genre that included titles like The Towering Inferno, Earthquakeand The Poseidon Adventure will leave you smiling from ear to ear. Truly, there is nothing that happens here which falls into the category of too tragic or awful in this quick paced comedic misadventure. Featuring a cast of nearly twenty comedic scene stealers, Disaster is the most delightful time you will have at the theater. What this show may miss in polish it more than makes up for with moxie. Being a Chicago Theatre Workshop production, budgetary constraints appear to be the only true restriction to the fun, which trust me, you will have by attending in spades.
The story takes place during the inaugural voyage of the Barracuda, the first floating casino and discotheque to debut in 1979. Unbeknownst to the voyagers above, the casino was tethered on an unstable fault line ready to blow. The cast assembled for the voyage are a slew of stock characters brought to life by almost two dozen of the hardest working character actors the Windy City has to offer. The collection of comedians include handsome waiter, Chad (Nathan Cooper) and his former fiancé turned freelance reporter, Marianne (Shannon McEldowney) “reunited, because it feels so good”. Professor Ted (the always amusing Dan Gold) plays the alarmist scientist and soon to be cruise ship hero, dastardly Tony Del Vecchio (Charlie Ward) the villainous luxury liner owner, cutting safety corners to maximize profits while simultaneously chewing through the scenery, and deadpan reformed gambling addict, Sister Mary Downey (Britain Gebhardt) once again tempted by the devil, this time disguised as the Hawaii 5-O themed slot machine.
Disaster is now playing at Chicago Theatre Workshop through May 6, 2018 at The EDGE Theater.