It seemed an extremely appropriate activity to see a show called Disaster on my birthday. Even though I prefer to look forward rather than back, it was all too poetic, and the temptation too great to see a performance that merged the disaster movies of the seventies with the music of the same era. Had it been a slick Broadway show with millions of dollars spent on production, I might have been more sceptical of the rave reviews. But here we were at St Lukes on West 46th in what must have been the church hall, slightly dilapidated and hokey, and with a perfectly lovely quote from Danny Kaye at the entrance. Going in with that thought, I knew the show would be good regardless.
It was hilarious! Showing my age – and camaraderie – in unison with the audience, I laughed as Earthquake, the Poseidon Adventure and Killer Bees was cleverly storied with Don’t Bring Me Down, I am Woman and Hot Stuff. A singing nun with a badly tuned guitar stole the show as she anguished over her vowels and her gambling addiction, singing ‘Torn between two lovers’ to a slot machine. When the casino was ripped from its moorings by an earthquake and set adrift, upside down, up the Hudson River about to be hit by a tidal wave, the evil owner was attacked by sharks and appeared on stage with both arms engulfed by soft-toy white pointers. The pantomime made the show. The effects of the casino exploding ( Burn Baby Burn Baby! ) left everyone smeared with soot. A Shirley Bassey character, with wig being her afro one minute and her dog the next, was left with black puppy prints across her chest and on her face.
The audience was a marvelous miss mash of characters that grooved in the aisles at half time. I kept thinking I would run into Maggie Tabberer or Don Dunstan. There were baby boomers and a lot of boys, and the show had them all laughing together right to the end. Even though there were some New York in-jokes from the 70’s about characters I didn’t know, the last laugh was pure NYC. As the helicopters arrived to the sound of Barry Manilow’s ‘Daybreak’, the survivors emerged to see the worst disaster of all – New Jersey!