Escape to Margaritaville
Jimmy Buffett has been making a career out of good food, good times and good music for more than 40 years. The singer, songwriter, business entrepreneur, restaurateur, and best-selling author is adding a new job to his long resume: Broadway musical composer. Escape to Margaritaville, a new musical comedy, makes is pre-Broadway debut right here in New Orleans Oct. 20-28 at the Saenger Theater.
The musical features original songs, as well as many of the tunes Parrotheads have come to know by heart. The production team also includes several Tony and Emmy Award winners.
New Orleanians have a unique relationship with Buffett, embracing both his beach combing lifestyle and a mutual love of libations and festing at the Fairgrounds. We tracked the troubadour down to discuss our cultural connections, musical debuts and the true story behind that famous cheeseburger.
Why did you want to debut Escape To Margaritaville in New Orleans at the Saenger?
It was not my decision, but I am overjoyed that New Orleans and the Saenger were chosen. I have a long history with both the town and the theatre. My uncle Jack Rappaport had an office in the Saenger, and I would watch movies and shows from the balcony for free as a 12-year-old. It was where I first thought about becoming a shameless entertainer.
We’ve heard that the story for Escape To Margaritaville is completely original. What’s it about?
Let’s just say it’s not far from one of the simple, but most important themes of mine – there are very few people who wouldn’t want to spend a few weeks on a tropical island.
What was it like watching Escape To Margaritaville for the first time?
I was a bit overcome. I had never seen a Jimmy Buffett show before.
What is your favorite Broadway play?
South Pacific, by far.
New Orleans has a long love affair with all things Jimmy Buffett, and we hope the feeling is mutual. What brings you back to New Orleans?
Gumbo, Jazz Fest, the Saints, friends and family and memories – lots of memories.
Are your New Orleans fans different from other places?
Not really, but we all know New Orleanians have music, food and fun in their DNA, and so do I.
There’s a rumor that the famous cheeseburger from “Cheeseburger in Paradise” was inspired by a menu item at Camellia Grill in New Orleans. Is this accurate, or do you want to set the record straight?
I love the Camelia Grill cheeseburger, but no, it is not accurate. The inspiration came down in the British Virgin Islands at the end of a not so glamorous sailing passage, and we found a waterfront bar with cheeseburgers.
Who are you listening to you right now?
Today, I was listening to Chancha Via Circuito as I made a passage from Sag Harbor, NY to Martha’s Vineyard.
What is your favorite cocktail or craft beer?
I am presuming tequila on the rocks is not a cocktail, so it would be a mojito with good Cuban rum and not a lot of sugar.
You’re an award-winning, stadium-filling musician, successful businessman, best-selling author, and now musical theater impresario. Is there something you haven’t done that is still on your to-do list?
Go to space.
I haven’t been to confession in a long time and I am not going back now.