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story.lead_photo.caption The Royal Players will present Disaster! The Musical on Thursday through Aug. 25 at the Royal Theatre in Benton. Cast members include, from left, Chelsie Troillett Fletcher, James Linker, Hillary Bell, Kennan Smith, Jenny Johnston, Danny Troillett, Beth Ross, Zachary Hickman, Cheryl Troillett, Amber Thompson and Beau Goldthorpe. The musical, which is an homage to disaster films, includes such songs as “Knock on Wood,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Sky High,” “I Am Woman” and “Hot Stuff.”

— Theater patrons, especially fans of disaster movies, are invited to the Royal Theatre for the Royal Players’ upcoming production of Disaster! The Musical, which opens Thursday.

The musical, sponsored locally by McFarland Eye Care, will have performances through Aug. 25.

“Disaster! The Musical is a wild ride, not only through the disaster films of the 1970s, but also an imaginative romp through some of the biggest disco hits ever recorded,” said Justin A. Pike of Little Rock, director and choreographer, along with Jenny Johnston of Benton.

“It’s campy, fun, hilarious and the perfect way for Royal Theatre to end the 2018-2019 season. I saw it a few years ago on Broadway, and since then, I’ve been interested in the challenges of creating a

smaller-scale production,” Pike said. “The cast is phenomenal, the music and choreography are wonderful, and there’s tons of wicked humor, which is my favorite.

“It’s probably the wackiest thing I’ve ever directed, and I’ve really enjoyed bringing it to life. Without a doubt, unknowing audiences can expect a side-splitting adventure, so they need to brush up on those 1970s disaster flicks beforehand.”

Matthew Burns of Benton, the show’s producer, provides this synopsis of Disaster, which is under the musical direction of Christian Waldron of Bryant: “It’s 1979, and New York’s hottest A-listers are lining up for the opening of a floating casino and discotheque. Also attending are a faded disco star, a sexy nightclub singer with her 11-year-old twins, a disaster expert, a feminist reporter, an older couple with a secret, a pair of young guys who are looking for ladies, an untrustworthy businessman and a nun with a gambling addiction.

“What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to panic as the ship succumbs to multiple disasters, such as earthquakes, tidal waves and infernos. As the night turns into day, everyone struggles to survive and, quite possibly, repair the love they’ve lost … or at least escape the killer rats.”

Burns also provides these warnings: The show includes a parental content warning — language that may not be appropriate for some children, and strobe-light warning.

“There are uses of strobes in the show that could possibly affect some people watching the show,” Burns said. “The strobe is used for special effects … as in someone falling off a ship.”

The cast includes the following:

• Zachary Hickman of Mayflower appears as Chad, the caterer who was engaged to Marianne.

• Matthew Burns plays Scott, a friend of Chad’s.

• Tony Clay of Benton portrays Ted, a disaster expert.

• Adriana Napolitano of Little Rock appears as Marianne, a feminist journalist and ex-fiancee of Chad.

• Jeremy Clay of Benton plays Tony, the deceitful owner of the casino.

• Jenny Johnston portrays Jackie, an aging sexy showgirl and the mother of twins.

• Beau Goldthorpe of Glen Rose plays Ben/Lisa, Jackie’s twin son and daughter.

• Beth Ross of Little Rock appears as Sister Mary Downy, a nun with a gambling addiction.

• Cheryl Troillett of Little Rock portrays Shirley, the wife of Maury.

• Danny Troillett of Little Rock plays Maury, the husband of Shirley.

• Chelsie Troillett Fletcher of Roland appears as Levora Verona, a faded disco diva.

Members of the ensemble include Hillary Bell, Jamie Partain, Kennan Smith and Gio Hiblong, all of Benton; Amber Thompson of Bryant; and James Linker of Little Rock.

Showtimes are at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and again Aug. 22, 23 and 24, and at 2 p.m. Aug. 18 and 25.

Tickets are $15 for general admission; $12 for senior citizens ages 60 and older, members of the military and college students with a valid school ID; and $6 for students in the 12th grade or lower. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit or call (501) 315-5483.


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