The cast of Allen Contemporary Theatre’s ‘Disaster! The Musical!’ (Courtesy photo)

Watching Disaster! The Musical, it’s easy to imagine writers Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick merely making themselves laugh with their outrageously ridiculous story. Their take on the 1970s disaster film genre like Earthquake, The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno adds an even campier layer to the melodrama. The soundtrack/showtunes that are entirely from the same decade isn’t just a bonus, but a clever ingredient to the playwriting.

The campy jukebox musical opened Friday at Allen Contemporary Theatre.

A sold out show Saturday night was eager for the fun as the opening number of Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” immediately ramped up the audience’s excitement. There was nary a falter for the rest of the night by the cast with the show’s endless parade of hijinx, comedy-infused interpretation of popular songs and some outstanding choreography by Becca Tischer. Over-the-top performances by the actors only served the show’s ludicrous hilarity that centered on a floating casino/disco cruise ship’s disastrous run that underwent a checklist of danger including earthquakes, tidal waves, flooding and piranhas.

As Sister Mary Downey, Laura Alley’s creaky-voiced, guitar carrying nun was filled with surprises that included an ovation worthy “duet” with a slot machine to “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Decked in tie-dyed spandex and bell-bottoms, Cheray Williams was always entertaining as the sassy and nasty disco diva Levora Verona. Shea McMillan and Christian Black played the story’s young lovers Marianne and Chad, who exchange a number of laments and woes after she left him at the altar in a life prior to all the ship shenanigans. If memory serves, they have the most duets but hit the best vibes for “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight.”

Perhaps the closest to being the show’s central character was Professor Ted Scheider who predicted all the disasters but whose warnings went unheeded. Eddy Herring was a mix of nerdy delights as the Professor intent on saving the passengers — particularly the ship’s lounge singer Jackie, played with oblivious vamp by Laura Jennings, and her twins Ben and Lisa both adroitly delivered by an outstanding Elijah Ponce.

Sherry Etzel and Jack Agnew served ideal chemistry as the married Shirley and Maury Summers. Both delivered a magical “Still the One” but surprised with an extensive physicality that was impressive and droll. These two alone were a double threat — or quadruple? Playing casino owner Tony Del Vecchio, Jeff York oozed all the right smarm for his cringey character, particularly in his come on to Marianne via “Do You Wanna Make Love?”

These characters were all aided by a strong ensemble that showed off impressive dance numbers as well as traumatic suffering with each hazard.

Directed by Penny Elaine, she brought forth an energetic and fast-paced show that relied on laughs. Her cast did not fail her as the slapstickiness of the show hit every mark. She also designed the set with scenic artist Kasey Bush. Jennifer Stubbs’ props were kitschy but added to the show’s inanity. Technically, the sound and lighting weren’t always consistent. Some mics had actors sounding cavernous which were starkly noticeable in one-on-one dialogue. A handful of lighting and sound/music cues were off a beat, but easy adjustments should get those on track. In funny ways, these technical off-bits added to the show’s calamity.

The same could be said of the musical numbers. The cast didn’t always have the range each of their songs needed and some of those vocal runs were, um, challenging, but props for the actors’ bravery to just let go and let us have it. The entire cast truly served up uproarious performances which was Disaster‘s golden charm and they all looked like they were having as much fun as the audience did. However, you may never hear “Three Times a Lady” the same ever again.

The show runs through June 28.

–Rich Lopez