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Q&A: Eric Petersen of ‘Escape to Margaritaville’

Category Actor Spotlight

|by Jeryl Brunner |

Eric Petersen stars in 'Escape to Margaritaville,' which brings the beach to Broadway

Fresh off rocking as Dewey Finn in School of Rock, Eric Petersen (Shrek, Peter and the Starcatcher) plays Brick in Escape to Margaritaville. This exhilarating new musical with music and lyrics by Jimmy Buffett brings a bit of the beach to Broadway at the Marquis Theatre.  Expect Buffett’s classic tunes like “Come Monday,” “Volcano” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” along with some lesser known ones. 

Eric Petersen stars in 'Escape to Margaritaville'

Eric Petersen stars in 'Escape to Margaritaville'

How would you describe Escape to Margaritaville
Eric Petersen: It’s a classic musical. You have boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy hopefully gets girl back. I play part of the comic relief in the show and a happy-go-lucky joyful character. There are plenty of laughs. The dancing is amazing. The sets and costumes are beautiful. It’s a big, bright, fun classic musical tale.The music is so accessible. Even if you don’t already know and love the music you will leave the theater thinking, man, I didn’t realize, maybe I am a big Jimmy Buffet fan! 

When did you first discover Jimmy Buffett? 
Eric Petersen: I have been listening to Jimmy Buffet since I can remember. I grew up in Chicago, but my parents had a boat and we spent all our weekends on it. So since I was a kid, all we listened to was Jimmy Buffet and Bob Marley. This music is deep within my soul. My dad is a sailor and so is his dad. So songs like “Son of a Sailor” are really deep songs for me. When we started working on the show it was so exciting because this music has been a part of my life for so long.

Why do you think Jimmy Buffett’s songs resonate with so many people? 
Eric Petersen: He is a supreme storyteller. If you talk about the songs musically, he uses chords that are very pleasing to hear. But when it comes down to them lyrically, he knows how to talk about real people and the things that really matter, like family, love, joy, relaxation and nature. I think that that is why his music hits people of all ages, of all social classes. Everybody can relate to these things that we all are striving to have. Jimmy has always been able to really touch into that in his music.

When you were growing up did you connect with musicals? 
Eric Petersen: I was a Broadway fan since I was a kid. I would go to the public library and rent Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Les Mis and listen to those soundtracks. I always had a goal to be on Broadway. The first show I did was Shrek the Musical. That was a great experience for me because I understudied the role of Shrek on Broadway and got to do it a few times. Then, I played the role on the national tour and my whole career kind of took off from that point. It’s a show that means a lot to me. 

If someone asked why should I see Escape to Margaritaville what would you say? 
Eric Petersen:
This show is so legitimately fun. You will laugh. You will get emotional. You will care about the characters And you will want to be there. 

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