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Disaster! Big hair. Big arms. Big hairy chests and bell bottoms abound. It’s the 70’s

Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk

Remember this name. Jennifer Simard. She portrays Sister Mary Downy – a quiet nun with a secret gambling addiction carrying a guitar searching to save some lost souls in the funny like crazy mashed-up musical DISASTER! – on-board the Casino/Discotheque BARRACUDA docked in New York City Harbor.

She is beyond hysterical. She has perfect comic timing. She knows just how long to wait (and then some) before she utters her line that will leave you wanting more. She can also belt out a mean song – “Torn Between Two Lovers.” What a showstopping performance in this “Love Boat” collides with “Laugh In” nutty musical filled with great 70’s songs and overflowing with sight gags and cheesy special effects.

With an all-star cast of Broadway legends portraying the stock, central casting characters parodying those already cheesy disaster movies. The only thing missing is a big bag of popcorn. Not that I condone eating while watching a show in the theatre. I don’t. But here it seems like the natural thing to do while the paper thin plot unfurls allowing each star their moment in the spotlight.

Seth Rudetsky (Professor Ted Scheider) – in his Walter Mitty moment of starring in a Broadway musical as the straight-man “disaster expert” co-created and co-wrote this conglomeration with Jack Plotnick (director) and Drew Geraci. Who wrote what is debatable. What is important is that DISASTER! is a fun evening out in the theatre – full of laughs and memorable moments that will be difficult to erase from your mind. You may just start to giggle at a Board meeting or while making love at a very inopportune moment as images of this over the top insanity pop up in your head.

Big hair. Big arms. Big hairy chests and bell bottoms abound. It’s the 70’s. William Ivey Long’s costumes are appropriately garish. Did we really dress like that?

You will have to wait until Act II to feel the full effect of the earthquake and tidal wave and fire that beset the passengers who have been doing their best to keep us amused during Act I which could be trimmed a bit. The songs (so many of them) are cleverly inserted to keep the plot afloat and to allow voices to soar. Sometimes just a snippet to make a joke and then sometimes we get the whole enchilada.

Adam Pascal a hunk in particular still has it all – including a voice that is incredibly strong. He’s a joy to look at and to listen to. Kerry Butler, Roger Bart, Kevin Chamberlin, Faith Prince (scarf in mouth), Rachel York, Max Crumm, Lacretta Nicole (yappy dog in tow) and Beylee Littrell (playing Twins Ben & Lisa) all enjoy their comic moments in the spotlight.

Song highlights are too numerous to mention. DISASTER! is a well put together hodgepodge of elements that exist to make us laugh. In that it succeeds mightily.

SPOILER ALERT – not every joke lands as intended…

At the Nederlander Theatre through July 3rd 2016.

Photo: Jeremy Daniel

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