WSTA’s ‘Disaster!’ opens with hysterical havoc
“Disaster! – A Musical” opened to a full house at the Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance on Friday night, and Saturday night’s packed-in crowd was just as raucous as the first. Get ready to flashback to the ‘70s with “Disaster!” (by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick) with music and lyrics by various artists. With some big belly laughs, the audience participated in singing along and dancing in their seats to some of the most beloved songs of the ’70s, including “Knock on Wood,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Sky High,” “I Am Woman,” and more.
“What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to panic as the ship succumbs to multiple disasters, such as earthquakes, tidal waves and infernos,” the WSTA website states. “As the night turns into day, everyone struggles to survive and, quite possibly, repair the love that they’ve lost… or at least escape the killer rats.”
Director Jamie Lawson jumped back to a tidal wave of applause and squeals as he stepped on stage to welcome the audience with laughter, saying, “Keep drinking, it gets better!”
Act 1 opens to construction workers on shaky scaffolding who are getting rushed off of the job before they tighten some loose nuts on a floating casino and discothèque.
The audience roared when casanova casino-owner Tony (Gray Smith) strutted on stage in his red and gold blazer, red polyester pants, silver-glittered platform shoes complete with hair that would make Elvis roll over in his grave. When hounded by a career reporter trying to “get her story” Ms. Wilson (aka Marianne), he turns the questions on her with outreached hands and asks, “Are those real?” The audience cracks up while he gyrates and belts lyrics to “Hot Stuff” along with Chad (John C. Wilson), Scott (Braxton Allen) and the ensemble (Mark Brown, James Crowe, Michele Groneck, Hayley Hansen, Ben James, Jake Messina and Lori Ranne Smith).
Sister Mary Downey (Denise McKibbon) is a good-nun-gone-bad trying to resist her lust for the shiny top-of-the-line slot machines singing, “Torn Between Two Lovers” and later wows the crowd with, “Never Can Say Good-bye.” Dee Curry plays Disco Diva, Levora Verona, whose dog has a real issue with Sister Mary’s guitar being off-key, which proves beneficial.
Sexy nightclub singer Jackie (Katy Roberts Carroll) belting out, “Saturday Night” – S. A. T. U. R. D. A. Y. with the Ensemble stirs up quite a ruckus stomping and dancing while Investigator Professor Ted (Andrew Lopina) explains, in vain, how the vibrations can cause an earthquake and his duty is to close the casino ship down.
Retired high rollers Shirley (Peggy Dull) and Maury (Ken Ashford) steal hearts as they dance and sing, “You’re Still the One.” Later, Wealthy Woman (Glad Douse) has a surprise from above—her husband (Mark Walek) causes Chad to retch off-deck with how he honors his wife in what he keeps and parts with.
My bravo moment came with Jackie and her 11-year old twins, Ben and Lisa, sing “When Will I Be Loved.” Julian Pecoraro demanded an overwhelming audience response to playing both twins throughout the show, and often at the same time!
The band played a tight 32 songs almost back-to-back and kept the hits rocking throughout the show. You won’t find much dead air in this musical! The musical professionals who volunteered their amazing talents included Allan Beck on guitar, Randy Mintz on bass, Laurie Klaus on keyboards, Gwen Gregory on keyboards and Erin Lopp kept the beat on percussion.
When Lawson invited the audience to have their photo taken with the entire cast (for any donation amount), people got in line, and no one was shy about cozying up in the middle.
Lawson said that if you like the show to please tell your friends, and to vote for WSTA every day through April 30 for the YES! Weekly annual reader poll, “The Triad’s Best.” He also invited everyone to go online and hit that big “help us” button for the “Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance Capital Homecoming Campaign,” and continue helping WSTA raise money to complete renovations and finish paying for their new theatre.
Lawson happily announced they were getting close to the goal!
“Speaking of fun, you’ve got to come see ‘Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story’ that opens on Valentine’s Day, you do not want to miss it, I promise you’ll have fun!”
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer/editorial/content/copy, creative consultant/branding strategist, communications outreach messenger, poet and emerging singer/songwriter.
“Disaster! – A Musical” opened Jan. 17 and has five 8 p.m. shows remaining on 1/23, 1/24, 1/25, 1/31 and 2/1 and one remaining Sunday 2 p.m. show on 1/26. Tickets are $16 (student/senior) and $18 (general admission), www.theatrealliance.ws/event/disaster/
Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance, 1047 W. Northwest Blvd., Winston-Salem, (336) 723-7777, www.theatrealliance.ws/