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DISASTER! A 70s Disaster Movie Musical premier/gala performance at London's Charing Cross theatre

Published by: Elaine Pinkus on 21st Nov 2016 | View all blogs by Elaine Pinkus

What a joy! Leaving behind the doom and gloom of a storm driven November evening, London’s Charing Cross Theatre played host to its ‘partially staged Gala performance’ of Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick’s Disaster, a spoof which has enjoyed Broadway success and has travelled over the pond to make its debut performance here in London. The recommendation was that the audience should ‘prepare to die laughing’ and indeed laughter rang out loudly in this small but intimate venue.

It is amazing what can be achieved with the minimum of set and effects. More important and delightful to see/hear was an exuberant cast, great music (from the 70s) performed by a band ably led by musical director James Taylor, choreography by Ashley Nottingham and some brilliantly ‘daft’ props.

Chad and Marianne

Chad (Oliver Tompsett) and Mariane (Alice Fern)

OK, so think Airplane, Snakes on a Plane, The Poseidon Adventure, Jaws and many other movies of that genre and you have got the gist of Disaster. The action takes place on a floating casino, secured (loosely) to a pier on the Hudson. Now we all know that the 21st century is over-dosing on health and safety, well not so 1970s United States.  Rejecting the warnings of geology professor (Seth Rudetsky), who specialises in investigating worldwide disasters, the boss of the Barracuda  (Simon Lipkin) has ignored health and safety on his floating casino. As a result, when an earthquake hits, the lives of those on board are in peril, with fires, piranhas, sharks, rats and a multitude of other dangers around every water blocked corner.

Olivert Tompsett and Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson (Scott) and Oliver Tompsett (Chad)

The characters are fantastic. There is a nun complete with guitar, (think Airplane), played brilliantly by Jennifer Simard. Her lust for the TX420 is nothing short of quasi-erotic and is hilarious. Add to this an adorable middle aged Jewish couple, Shirley and Maurie (think Shelley Winters in the Poseidon Adventure) played delightfully by Sally Ann Trip[let and Paul Grumett, a lovesick couple (Oliver Tompsett and Alice Fern) and you have the ingredients of a perfect disaster.

Jennifer Simard as Sister/Nun

Jennnifer Simard as Sister/Nun

The script itself is interspersed with side-splitting links to well known songs of the 70s, all performed fantastically by this talented cast. At every turn are snippets from hits such as All Right Now, Hot Lunch, Torn Between Two Lovers, I will survive, Knock Three Times, Daybreak and  I am woman (a tour-de-force performed by Alice Fenn with Bradley Riches).


The Cast

This is a glorious evening and it would take far too many pages of this review to name all the songs (70 in total) and all the cast. Suffice it to say, each was splendid in its own right. Hats off to Jennifer Simard as the singing, gambling addicted nun; Sally Ann Triplett as the dying Shirley (yes, I know, but she was hilarious) and Bradley Riches, whose transformation within seconds of Ben to Lisa was nothing short of miraculous.

Jennifer Simard, Seth Rudetsky and Bradley Riches

Jennifer Simard, Seth Rudetsky and Bradley Riches

Disaster is highly deserving of a London run. It was a privilege to be amongst the audience at this special Gala night. 

This was a one day only Gala Performance.

Photographer Jamie Scott-Smith

Charing Cross Theatre
The Arches
Villiers Street
London WC2N 6NL

Theatre MAD and Making Productions presented a Gala charity performance of Disaster at London’s Charing Cross Theatre. The Make A Different Trust is a UK based charity with a vision of a world free from HIV andAids.



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