Magic of ‘Margaritaville’: SoCal-grown lead Sarah Hinrichsen

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It may be brisk outside, but the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa is in the island state of mind with sun, surf, flip flops and overflowing cocktails for the touring Broadway musical “Escape to Margaritaville.” The jukebox musical based on the Jimmy Buffett songbook is on its last weekend in the OC, before it moves on to Dolby Theater in Los Angeles on Feb. 18 to March 8.

The fun love story features all of Buffett’s most famous hits, including “Fins,” “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Why Don’t We Get Drunk,” “Son of a Son of a Sailor,” “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes,” “Volcano,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” “Come Monday” and of course the title number “Margaritaville.”

Shining in the lead role of “Rachel,” the driven scientist who falls for the singing and songwriting beach bum Tully during her week stay at Margaritaville, is Upland-grown and Orange County School of Arts alum Sarah Hinrichson. Hinrichson shared her love for the show and excitement to return to her roots.

I saw you perform on Tuesday evening and you were wonderful. I’m so glad you enjoyed the show! Thanks for joining us!  

As someone who grew up in the IE and OC, what does it mean to you to return to your roots to perform “Escape to Margaritaville”? A: Both of my parents are in theatre (they actually met playing Harold and Marian in The Music Man at a theatre in CA!), so I feel like the theatre community here raised me. I’ve been living away from this coast for school and work for almost 7 years now, so getting to come home, and seeing family, friends, teachers, and fellow performers that I’ve looked up to since before I can remember is the ultimate cherry on top of an already dream theatrical experience.  

What challenges did you face in this particular role? A: Maybe I’m biased, but Amy Corcoran, our director, is the best director of our generation. She helped me shape Rachel so much, and I trust her opinion so much, that any concerns I had when we first started out immediately  disappeared.  

What is your favorite number to perform in this production? A: That’s tough! It really changes every night. I think my favorite song Jimmy performs doubles as my favorite song to perform onstage. It has to be Coast of Marseille – It’s a deeper cut from Jimmy’s songbook, and my favorite recording of it is from one of his live albums. It’s so sweet and simple. The version we do in the show is actually a duet between Tully and my character, Rachel. Our orchestrator, Chris Jahnke, outdid himself on the arrangement. He turned it into a duet, with a huge music swell and I think it’s the perfect musical end to the love story between our characters. Fun fact: it actually was the last song added into the Broadway show before it opened, replacing Come Monday. (Come Monday is still in the show, just a bit earlier!)  

What do you feel you bring special to the role of Rachel? A: I love Rachel because she’s so SMART. She’s funny, quick witted, and a great friend to Tammy. Then on top of all that, she’s also an award winning scientist who never gives up on her goals. The best nights for me are when he have mini Jimmy fans (children) come up to me and say “I want to be a scientist now because Rachel’s a scientist!” I’d like to think that I have some of those qualities as well – I hope I make Rachel proud!  

Prior to this production, were you a fan of Jimmy Buffett’s music? Which song do you feel particularly fond of performing?  A: I knew the obvious hits. I think I used to think it was all just background beach music – but since working so closely with his songbook, I’ve discovered that there’s a Jimmy song for just about every moment in life. Our ensemble is made up of some of the most incredible dancers I’ve ever worked with, and Cheeseburger in Paradise is a huge 11 o’clock production number. Shelly Walsh and Peter Michael Jordan play Brick and Tammy and lead that number with vocals. I sit in the wings and watch every night – you can’t help but smile and dance along with them.   

Is there a Broadway production that you dream to be a part of? A: I’ve always love Music Man because of the connection my family has to the show. The revival that’s coming to Broadway looks amazing. We’ll see what comes to Broadway in the future! I always say my dream role hasn’t been written yet because I love getting to work on creating a new character in new work.  

What inspired you to pursue musical theater? A: I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t surrounded by theatre. I remember driving to preschool with my dad and begging him to play the cassettes of Ragtime and Carousel on loops. I love the community of people that create theatre, and I love that it’s such a collaborative art form. We get to tell stories through song for a living – who doesn’t dream of doing that? 

What was your experience like as an OCSA student? A: I am OCSA’s biggest fan. Jeff Paul was the head of the Musical Theatre Conservatory during my time there and he was the most incredible leader, teacher, and now lifelong friend. OCSA creates this magical environment where you feel safe enough to figure out who you are as a person and an artist.  I was lucky enough to play some incredible roles and work with some unbelievable Broadway actors who have been amazing contacts for me in New York. While we were playing Segerstrom Center for the Arts, I stopped by the 9th grade acting class to visit a former teacher and was blown away by the students and the school in general – it somehow feels completely different and simultaneously like nothing has changed since I left. 

Segerstrom Center for the Arts – Sarah Hinrichsen as Rachel and Chris Clark as Tully in Jimmy Buffett’s ESCAPE TO MARGARITAVILLE – Photo by Matthew Murphy.

‘Escape to Margaritaville’

Segerstrom Center for the Arts: https://www.scfta.org/events/2020/escape-to-margaritaville

Dolby Theatre: https://dolbytheatre.com/events/details/escape_to_margaritaville

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