‘Disaster’ mixes assorted movies into musical farce

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Remember Jaws, The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, The Deep, and some of the light suspense films of the 1970s like Raiders of the Lost Arc, Ben, and so many others? Well, mix them all up and add pop music of the era and you get an idea what to expect when you see “Disaster.”

Kenny Taylor/Summit Theatre Group

Lees Summit Theatre presents the Kansas City premiere of “Disaster” for one more weekend at the Longview College campus, and added an additional performance due to weather conditions last week. That being said, the theatre was over 95 percent full on Friday, March 8. With such a fun selection to produce and a receptive audience, the laughs just keep coming throughout the show.
To add to the effect of the evening, director Nino Casisi found the theme songs to well-known and frequently re-run TV shows, commercials from that period, (I’m a Pepper, MacDonald’s, Burger King’s “Have It Your Way) and others) to start preparing the audience for the musical comedy to follow. Even the intermission medley featured theme songs that served to enhance the show. Can anyone not remember Jean Stapleton and Carroll O’Connor singing the theme song from All in the Family?

After setting the tone for the Seth Rudesky book and musical, the story begins at a casino prepping for it’s opening. But, the problem is that the structure has not been finished, not inspected,  not up to safety standards, and just overall, not ready to open. The Barracuda Casino sits on a pier just above a major fault line, and too much weight, vibration, noise could cause a seismic earthquake with dire consequences–death.

Kenny Taylor/Summit Theatre Group

“Disaster” lampoons several “disaster” movies of the ‘70s. And, it’s fun to watch for them as well an snippets that reflect other box office movies of the same time period. What makes “Disaster” so much fun is looking at the parts in a new and funny, illogical aspect. Then, the music portion just pushes the show over the top. Music selected by Rudesky just fits each moment. The show becomes a comic farce with music thrown in, making the audience laugh.

“Disaster” includes pieces of the following songs: “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder, “Torn Between Two Lovers” by Mary MacGregor, “Feelings” by Morris Albert, “Knock on Wood” by Eddie Floyd, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies, “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan, “Don’t Cry Out Loud” by Elkie Brooks and Melissa Manchester, “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, “Daybreak” by Barry Manilow, “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago, “Still the One” b”y Orleans, “Sky High” by Jigsaw, “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer, “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “All Right Now” by Free, “That’s the Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be” by Carly Simon, “A Fifth of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy, “Muskrat Love” by the Captain and Tennille, “Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione, “Without You” by Harry Nilsson, “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” by England Dan and John Ford Coley, “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John, “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen, “When Will I Be Loved” by Linda Ronstadt, “Three Times a Lady” by the Commodores, “Hawaii Five-O” by the Ventures, “Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” by Diana Ross, “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers “Never Can Say Goodbye” by The Jackson 5, “Nadia’s Theme” by Barry DeVorzon, “Mockingbird” by Inez & Charlie Foxx, 0″Knock Three Times” by Tony Orlando and Dawn, “Hooked on a Feeling” by Blue Swede, “Ben” by Michael Jackson, “Call Me (Come Back Home)” by Al Green, “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb, “Do You Wanna Make Love” by Peter McCann, “Baby Hold On” by Eddie Money, “Come to Me” by France Joli.

Kenny Taylor/Summit Theatre Group

The ensemble cast works well together and their spirit of camraderie elevates this crowd pleaser to a super nonsensical farce. Of the actors, Moe Graesber, Drew Jones, Tracy Pratt and Mytzi Stevens had good character development and carried their parts well during the show. They are central to the story line and delivered their characters with flash.

If you are a fan of the disaster movies, the ‘70s music, and enjoy a good laugh, “Disaster” is perfect for you. The show is a 2-hour laugh-filled romp. The show is family friendly and contains only mild profanity and no sexual content. “Disaster” is about fun. That’s what old-time musical-comedies were–just fun and music. Step back and enjoy. You won’t be disappointed.

Kenny Taylor/Summit Theatre Group

Jonah Beard as Chad Rubik, Nicholas Elkins as Scott, Moe Graesber as Ted Scheider, Jessica Michael Maryanne Wilson, Drew Jones as Tony Delvecchio, Jackie Noelle as Emily Davenport and Jackie Noel, Julianne Allen as Ben/Lisa, Tracy Pratt as Sister Mary Downey, Mytzi Stevens as Shirley Winters, Bill Bergman as Maury, Matherly as Levora Verona. The ensemble members are: Paul Brock, Nadine Cavitello, Roxanne Martin, Anna Leigh Nissen, Kenneth Schwartze.

The production team is Nino Casisi, director; Erin Brown, stage manager; Sean Carder, music director; Chuck Cline, lighting designer/technician; Anna Leigh Nissen, choreographer;

Summit Theatre Group

Laurie Schwab and Tom Kodera, accompanists; Ruby Renee Purtee costume design; Erin Brown, sound design/technician; Will Little, microphone technician, Michael Hadley, set moderator, set construction, technical director; Nino Casisi, properties; Anna Leigh Nissen, Veronica Gibbs, Holden Davenport and the cast, stage hands.

“The Morning After” Band is: Laurie Schwab, keyboards; Richard Burgess, bass; Tim Schwab, percussion; Martin Martinez, trumpet.

For viewers convenience an extra performance has been planned due to weather conditions on opening weekend.

Tags: “Disaster” review, Lees Summit Theatre, Longview Community College, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Performing Arts

Bob Evans

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