“Disaster! A 70s Disaster Movie Musical” opened earlier this month Off-Broadway at St. Luke’s Theatre in New York City. The show is a take-off on the genre of disaster movies that were popular in the 1970s. Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick co-wrote this show and as they did, they incorporated elements that made up disaster films such as “The Posiden Adventure,” “Earthquake,” and others. In doing so, they have come up with a show that is pure out and out fun to see. The laughs come often and easily.
The plot centers on a new night club that has been built on a pier on the Hudson River. It is opening night and all the guests are arriving. One of them has just discovered that this new club was built over an earthquake fault line and he warns the others of the danger. Of course no one believes him until suddenly, the quake just happens to come to life. What follows are the attempts to get off the boat and back onto NYC ground which amazingly does not seem to be affected. “Disaster!” makes use of some good comedy techniques and elements of the disaster genre to tell the story. We see that an earthquake is not enough for this disaster. No, a tidal wave, lack of proper exits on the ship, the arrival of sharks and piranhas, and all sorts of mishaps with the escape routes all follow. What could have been disaster enough now is an even bigger one allowing the audience to remember how outrageous the plots of those old disaster movies really were.
High marks go to the show’s writers for their analysis of the formula used by these movies and the adaptation of that formula to make it work on a live stage. They included elements of disaster, characters stereotypes from the genre and songs to play up how these movies used to be. Using a jukebox style format, there is a nice array of music from the late 60’s and 70’s used in a very funny way that totally compliments the plot. Songs such as Hot Stuff, Don’t Bring Me Down, I Am Woman, Alone Again Naturally, Signed Sealed Delivered, Knock On Wood, Daybreak, Sky High, Feelings, and others are included. The singing is good and the musical accompaniment is also.
The characters contribute to the plot and the hilarity of the situations. Casting for these characters includes Sherz Aletaha, Haven Burton, Paul Castree, Charity Dawson, John Treacy Egan, Saum Eskandani, Matt Farcher, Tom Riis Farrell, Drew Geraci, Ashanti J’Aria, Maggie McDowell, Michele Ragusa, Seth Rudetsky, Robb Sapp, Jennifer Simard, Mary Testa, and Jonah Verdon.
Theater goers will enjoy some of the special staging effects that are used which add to the laughs. Items from hand puppets of sharks and piranhas to hand drawn chandeliers to sheets being raised to indicate water rising are both funny and very ingenious.
For those who like to laugh and enjoy music from the late 60’s – 70’s, "Disaster! A 70s Disaster Movie Musical" is a good show to see. Currently it is scheduled to play at St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 W. 46th St., New York City on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday nights at 7:30 p.m. and on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are reasonably priced and available via Telecharge – call 212-239-6200 (800-447-7400 outside NYC) or visit www.disastermusical.com to purchase tickets online.