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Sunday, December 21, 2014

A tuneful ‘Disaster!’ strikes off-Broadway

By Maya Rajamani
Posted
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Michele Ragusa, John Treacy Egan, Charity Dawson, Haven Burton, Jonah Verdon and Jennifer Simard in a scene at a casino from DISASTER! a 1970's disaster movie musical written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick at the St. Luke Church.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Jennifer Simard as Sister Mary, in a scene from DISASTER! a 1970's disaster movie musical written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick at the St. Luke Church.
Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Matt Farcher as Chad and Haven Burton as Marianne in a scene from DISASTER! a 1970's disaster movie musical written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick at the St. Luke
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Riverdalian Drew Geraci, the Associate Director, Choreographer, concept creator and contributing choreographer of DISASTER! who also serves as an understudy.
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It’s the grand opening of New York City’s first floating casino, and the atmosphere is chaotic. Casino owner Tony Delvecchio is in debt. Casino-goer Shirley is trying to hide her life-threatening illness from her husband. A young reporter, Marianne, runs into a former flame while on assignment. A casino performer struggles to raise her twins singlehandedly. A former casino star struggles with financial woes. A nun named Sister Mary warns guests about the evils of gambling while fighting off her own addiction. 

In the midst of it all, scientist Ted brings the news of an impending disaster:

“You’ve got to get everyone off this casino,” he says. An earthquake is nearing. 

It’s the setup of off-Broadway musical Disaster!, and while it is reminiscent of classic 70s disaster movies like The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, and The Swarm, fans of the films might be surprised to see common disaster archetypes bursting into classic songs like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “Hot Stuff,” and “Don’t Bring Me Down.” 

“It’s the most horrible night you could ever imagine living through,” said Riverdale resident Drew Geraci, the show’s associate director. Characters in the musical comedy must maneuver their way through an obstacle course that includes tidal waves, killer bees and hungry sharks to make their way off the floating casino. 

The show originally developed around the idea of a musical about the blackout of 1977, but quickly expanded to cover a series of unfortunate events. 

“There’s so many other disasters out there,” Mr. Geraci joked. “Why don’t we add other disasters to it?” 

Co-writer Seth Rudetsky credits a love of 70s disaster movies – The Poseidon Adventure in particular – for his interest in creating the show.

“I always loved that movie and I was always obsessed with disasters,” said Mr. Rudetsky. 

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