(The cast from Little Theatre of Virginia Beach’s “Margaritaville.” Photo by Joshua Stubbs.

By Jim Roberts

Jimmy Buffett’s not touring this summer, but Hampton Roads’ “Parrotheads” can experience the next best thing when the Little Theater of Virginia Beach presents “Escape to Margaritaville.”

The jukebox musical includes 11 of the 13 songs on Buffett’s greatest hits album, “Songs You Know by Heart.” (“Boat Drinks” and “Pencil Thin Mustache” didn’t make the cut.)

TréVeon Porchia stars as Tully Mars, a philandering musician at Margaritaville, a run-down hotel in the Caribbean. Jaliyah Branch and Anna Super will tag-team performances as Tully’s love interest, Rachel.

“She makes him see the world a little bit differently,” Porchia said. “He starts to change and grow as a person because of this woman, and we don’t see that player version of him that we see at the very beginning of the show. The show kind of centers around that journey.”

The cast also includes Cody Hall as Brick, Kat Sinclair Fenter and Willow Harris (double cast as Tammy), Dave Hobbs as J.D., and Chonise Thomas as Marley.

“Everyone’s extremely excited for this show,” Porchia said. “Being able to do a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously—except for a few moments—it allows everyone to just have fun. The dancing aids in how much fun it is. … There’s a story that goes along with it that’s not super fantastical. It’s just a regular ‘boy meets girl’ story that doesn’t need anything super extra. It’s a lot of fun—very grounded, very realistic.”

Sharon Davidson Cook, the show’s director—and a recent retiree—has a difference in attitude. 

“It’s all about relaxing and taking time off,” she said. “Get off the hamster wheel and just let your hair down. Live in the moment and just enjoy life. We’re so busy, busy, busy, busy, busy—doing this, that, whatever. … As one of the songs says: ‘Breathe in, breathe out and move on.’”

“Escape to Margaritaville” debuted in La Jolla, California, in 2017 and also played in New Orleans, Houston and Chicago before opening on Broadway in 2018. 

The show was panned in The New York Times—and closed after only 124 performances—but Frank Scheck gave a positive review in The Hollywood Reporter, writing: “Even those unfamiliar with Buffett’s songwriting oeuvre (I know, not a word usually associated with the composer of ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’) should find the proceedings relaxedly enjoyable. This jukebox musical is the theatrical equivalent of sipping on a frozen drink while lying on a beach chair in the blazing sun. It’s not good for you, but it feels good.”

Coincidentally, Cook said her favorite song in the show is “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

“I love the energy in that number,” she explained. “I was sitting there the other day, watching them finish up the choreography, and I just got chills. I said, ‘Y’all, I am so excited about this number. This is my absolute favorite song.’ The choreographer, Jennifer Kelly Cooper, has really done a great job in really capturing the energy of that song, so I’m excited about that.”

If you like yours with lettuce and tomato, feel free to sing along.

“I want the audience to know that they’re taking the journey with us,” Cook said. “They are a part of the cast. … For those two hours, just relax and allow themselves to escape those things that bring them worry and anxiety and just enjoy living in the moment at Margaritaville. Enjoy the music. Participate. Just have fun. … Breathe in, breathe out, and move on.”

Little Theater of Virginia Beach will present Escape to Margaritaville” from July 14 through Aug. 6. Show times are 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are $22; discounts are available for seniors, active-duty military, full-time students, children under 12 and groups of 20 or more. For tickets or more information, visit ltvb.com.