You could call it island-hopping, but it's not exactly a vacation. After choreographing last season's Come From Away, and winning a Tony nomination, Kelly Devine zipped from frosty Newfoundland to the Caribbean beach resort that is the setting for Escape to Margaritaville.
In the fall, she was shuttling between them, before they start this month: flying to Toronto to prepare a new Canadian production of Come From Away, then jetting back to Chicago for the final stop of Margaritaville's four-city pre-Broadway tryout.
"These two shows could not be more different from each other," Devine says with a dash of understatement. Come From Away is about the small Newfoundland town where airliners grounded by the 9/11 attacks dumped thousands of unexpected visitors; Escape to Margaritaville, at the Marquis Theatre, is a comic island romance concocted from the beachcomber songbook of Jimmy Buffett.
What do you go to a musical for? The singing and dancing, a great story, and charismatic performers, right? But this season a clutch of new musicals are flaunting something else: a moral compass—and compassion. A colleague of mine suggests that our increased awareness of this has to do with our post-election state of mind, and, in a time when compassion seems scarce, some of this season's new musicals are coming to the rescue.