“Disaster!,” the scrappy, witty, ultra-campy new musical that parodies 1970s disaster flicks like “The Poseidon Adventure” and “Airport 1975” to a soundtrack of disco-era pop hits, may have been better off staying off-Broadway instead of making the unanticipated and improbable move to Broadway, where it looks and feels out of place and its flaws become more apparent.
Set in 1979 aboard New York’s very first floating casino/discothèque, chaos erupts once an earthquake hits the ship. The survivors then face a tidal wave, piranhas — you name it. The characters are familiar types such as the shady businessman, lounge singer, intrepid reporter, older married couple and so on.
Seth Rudetsky, who cowrote the show with director Jack Plotnick and plays the super-serious “disaster expert” who leads the others to safety, is widely-known as a musical theater know-it-all from his SiriusXM radio show and numerous live events.
Rudetsky is joined by top-notch musical comedy talents including Roger Bart, Faith Prince, Kerry Butler, Rachel York, Kevin Chamberlin and Jennifer Simard, plus Adam Pascal (the original Roger in “Rent”) and Baylee Littrell, a young boy who alternates between playing identical twins of the opposite sex.
“Disaster!“ takes ridiculousness to an extreme that, at its best, can be hilarious. Visual gags are plentiful and each hit song is integrated with the dialogue in an unusually artful manner. They even find an explanation for the “ooga-chaka” parts of “Hooked on a Feeling.”
Even so, the show’s relentless, one-note silliness grows tiresome, resembling a “Saturday Night Live” sketch that goes on way too long. During its earlier runs at smaller venues, it was easier to just enjoy “Disaster!“ as an overstuffed but inspired sendup of cheesy 1970s pop culture.
If you go
“Disaster!“ plays at the Nederlander Theatre through July 3. 208 W. 41st St., disastermusical.com.