The world probably didn’t need a musical stage version of some television show that only ran for three seasons back in the 1960s, but “Gilligan’s Island” was not just any show. Through the magic of syndication, this goofy and thinly plotted sitcom defied its short original run to become a cultural touchstone. It has silliness and pratfalls, winking sex jokes that the kids won’t get but their parents sure will, and a comfortably dopey formula as predictable and easy to forgive as the show’s title character. I’m not sure why we still love Gilligan after all the rescues he botched, but the Gulfport Community Players found a way to tap into his peculiar charm in their new production, “Gilligan’s Island: The Musical.”
Like its TV predecessor, the stage production needs a likable and game cast of actors to work, and director Olga Kruse pulls it off with a motley crew of talented local performers who jump into the broad comedy feet first. Bruce Taylor and Marina Spears are delightfully obnoxious as Mr. and Mrs. Howell, the entitled aristocrats we want to hate but can’t. Rudy Gonzalez nails it as the Professor, with his running list of obscure degrees and uncanny ability to cobble advanced technology out of coconuts and bamboo. We feel Ron Goldstein’s pain as the Skipper, who is endearing in his ongoing struggle not to strangle the “Little Buddy” who he loves like a son.
And does this production add anything to the decades-long Ginger or Mary Ann debate? Not really; it just gets tougher. In her GCP debut, Stacie Steinke brings some standout sass to her deceptively coy Mary Ann; Tammy D. Lukas vamps it up as Ginger, but she’s a satisfyingly sharp-witted version of the movie star, with a couple of chuckle-worthy running gags.
Another new face is David Gallagher as Gilligan, who brings not only the acting chops but also a knockout voice to the stage at the Catherine Hickman Theater. The tunes created for this show are likable enough, but they’re elevated under the musical direction of William Bryant and with some stellar singers like Gallagher, Lukas, and Steinke.
We feel compelled to mention that William A. Waters III is a featured member of this cast but we won’t say much more about his role so as to avoid spoilers. But he’s out of this world in a featured role that captures the bizarre appeal of “Gilligan’s Island” after all these years.
Gilligan’s Island: The Musical Catherine Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Ave. S., Gulfport. Through Jan. 23: Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m. $22. gulfportcommunityplayers.org