Most likely you jumped off the bus and ran down the driveway so that you didn’t miss the opening credits of the TV show, already in reruns by the time you were in kindergarten.
Fast forward twenty years to a little theatre in North Carolina in the early 1990’s, where the original creator of Gilligan’s Island, Sherwood Schwartz, workshopped a musical version of his classic show—complete with all the passengers of the S.S. Minnow.
Save for a few big-city tours in the last decade, Gilligan’s Island, The Musical remained, quite literally, off the map.
Until now. The adventurous folks at the Alley Theater have resurrected this absurdly quirky show, and brought it to life at The Pointe in Butchertown.
Fraught with the inane conundrums they find themselves in, like being stuck together with man-made glue, and surviving a hurricane by tying themselves to a tree, the seven castaways have no other recourse but to erupt into songs extolling the benefits of working together (think in preschool cooperation terms) and teaching Gilligan the vastly underrated skill of spelling ‘hieroglyphics.'
At one point in the show, when a would-be disastrous moment turns to a celebration (no spoilers here), Ginger cries, “This calls for a Conga Line!” and, once again, the castaways resume their nonchalant attitudes about ever escaping their shipwrecked fate.
Fans of the series will notice the casts’ conscientious effort toward creating their characters similar to the TV personalities, and they do so with admirable success. Jenni Cochran (the uber-rich Mrs. Howell) is far younger than her TV compadre, but her choices are effective and fun.
While singing is not the strong suit of the cast as a whole, pitchiness and rhythm issues were evident, and some songs were spoken instead of sung, there is one notable exception.
Mera Kathryn Corlett, as the movie star, Ginger, graces the stage with her strong voice and rich stage presence. Like her character, Corlett exudes confidence and is a delight to watch. She is the ‘natural phenomenon’ she sings about.
Audiences would do well to suspend their critical thoughts and delight in production for what it is: a campy, ridiculous comedy, meant to be enjoyed by the audience as much as it is obviously enjoyed by the cast.
Gilligan’s Island, The Musical runs May 26 through June 9 at the Alley Theater. Tickets are $18/$16 in advance; $2 more day of show. Student tickets are $10 with ID at the box office. All may be purchased online or by calling the box office at 502-713-6178.
Image: Courtesy Alley Theater