The “Castaways” bring sitcom comedy to the MCT stage

MISSOULA – We’ve probably all felt like we’ve been stranded on a “deserted island” for the past two years. So there’s probably no better remedy than a little “castaway comedy” from the Missoula Community Theater.

One of my favorite interviews was with Bob Denver, Dawn Wells and Russell Johnson years ago. That happy feeling comes back watching MCT’s performance of “Gilligan’s Island – the Musical,” while starting with that theme song “ear worm.”

“Most people either knew the lyrics within 10 seconds or knew it from auditions as well. And now my kids have finally been reintroduced to this theme song,” director Rosie Seitz Ayers said. “It’s like water in the background. We watched these episodes non-stop.”

The cast is perfect, even for those immersed in the iconic, silly ’60s sitcom.

“It’s me at a ‘t’,” admits Dillon Deschamps in the iconic red shirt and slouch hat. “I mean he’s just an absolute ditz. He kind of has this goldfish memory, I have this goldfish memory. They’re just a great couple, you know.”

I asked Dylan Wright, who plays the Skipper, how many times he says “Little Buddy” to Gilligan during the show.

“Oh boy. You know I even counted. But what if it was a drinking game,” laughs Wright, popping Deschamps with his skipper’s cap. “Isn’t it ‘Little Buddy’?”

Royce McIntosh puts on his best upper accent as Thurston Howell, the role made famous by the late Jim Backus.

“I had never seen the show before. And I kind of got to grips with it and was kind of surprised that they made it into a musical. But I was very excited.”

Emily Morrison is having as much fun as Ms Howell, with a seemingly endless wardrobe on board for a ‘three-hour tour’.

“I have a lot of fun wearing vintage pieces. I have a lot of wigs. I have a lot of hats. It’s a lot of fun.”

No matter where you stand in the “Mary Ann or Ginger” debate, you have to admire the perfect casting of the two women filling those roles.

“It’s a classic. Everyone knows what it is. So it’s super fun to be able to play and make so many good friends too,” said Chole Kernas, wearing that famous gingham blouse.

“It’s so fun and it’s just joyful,” observes Luidlima Karaseva, who shines as “Ginger”. “And it really sounds like an episode of Gilligan’s Island, just a musical style.”

Complete with these wacky inventions, prompting me to ask Benjamin Kolis, if his turn as a teacher will help him with his actual coconut skills.

“Yeah, I mean it already augments my already impressive resume of horse sounds,” as he mimics the classic clop-clop motion. “But you know, now I have satellite launches and all kinds of things.”

It’s a healthy dose of silly, somewhat bittersweet nostalgia considering the passing of Dawn Wells and everyone else but Tina Louise last year.

“Mary Ann is such an iconic character, and I want to keep it as classic as possible, especially since the passing is so recent,” Kernas tells me. “I just want to hopefully bring some memory to her. And for people to feel the nostalgia and the happiness that they had as kids watching her.”

Seitz Ayers says it’s a simple formula.

“It starts with a problem. There’s a solution and a twist. And then you have to find two more solutions to get to the slapstick joy. And it always ends up a bit tidy in the end and everyone’s usually pretty happy even though they’re still stuck on the island.”

“Gilligan’s Island – The Musical” plays until next weekend at Missoula Community Theater at the MCT.

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