‘Disaster’ returns for encore at The Y

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A nun, an older married couple, and a nightclub singer walk into a casino yacht.

No, it’s not the start of a joke. It’s only part of the plot of “Disaster,” the musical returning to The Riverdale Y through its Riverdale Repertory Co., for two weekends starting Nov. 4, after a successful run in June.

“Disaster” is an ensemble slapstick comedy surrounding a group of people from all walks of life who go on board a casino yacht in the 1970s. They experience tidal waves, earthquakes, and other crazy situations that are perfectly in-sync with top hits of the decade. 

The show, which also heavily parodies disaster films of that era like “The Towering Inferno” and “Jaws,” premiered off-Broadway in 2012, making it to Broadway in 2016.

When it came down to casting ‘Disaster’, freelance marketing director Jim DeBlasi said the magic behind the first production was the troupe’s chemistry. 

“It’s one of those ensemble pieces that you really need everybody there pitching together, working hard, and being a cohesive unit,” DeBlasi said. “And sometimes it doesn’t work that way, the chemistry isn’t right. This happened to be perfect and everybody worked really well together, and the show pulled off together nicely.”

While a few cast members weren’t able to return for this two-weekend engagement that runs through Nov. 12, other members of the theater company filled in, bringing a different energy to the show.

“They fit in really nicely and smoothly, and the transition was quite gentle,” DeBlasi said. “So it makes it still a fresher, more lively production.”

Part of the reason why ‘Disaster’ is back was how much DeBlasi and performing arts director Laurie Walton saw audiences laughing along with the performance.

“What we had noticed the first time around was the smile on people’s faces and actually saw them bobbing in their chairs and almost singing along to it because they were so familiar with the music,” DeBlasi said.

The Y’s summer schedule also played a part in why Walton decided to bring the show back, according to DeBlasi. Many said they were unable to attend in June.

“A lot of people were grateful that it was coming back because they said now they want to bring friends of theirs to come see it,” DeBlasi said. “The reaction in the feedback has been very positive and encouraging.”

And when it comes to a slapstick comedy like ‘Disaster’, the cast and audience work hand-in-hand.

“It’s one of the shows that you really need to have an audience (for) because they fuel your enjoyment on the stage,” DeBlasi said. 

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