MISSOULA — We've probably all felt like we're stranded on a "desert isle" these past two years. So there's probably no better medicine 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 sense of fun comes back watching MCT's performance of "Gilligan's Island- the Musical", all starting with that "earworm" theme song.
"Most everybody knew the words within 10-seconds or knew that at auditions as well. And now my children have finally been re-introduced to that theme song," said Director Rosie Seitz Ayers. "It feels like water in the background. We've been watching those episodes non-stop."
The casting is spot on, even for those just immersing themselves in the iconic, and silly, 60s sitcom.
"It's me to a 't'," admits Dillon Deschamps in the trademark red shirt and floppy hat. "I mean he's just an absolute ditz. He kind of has that goldfish memory, which I have that goldfish memory. It's just great pairing 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 haven't even counted. But if this was a drinkin' game," Wright laughs, popping Deschamps with his skipper's hat. "Right 'Little Buddy'?"
Royce McIntosh dons his best upper-crust accent as Thurston Howell, the role made famous by the late Jim Backus.
"I'd never seen the show before. And I familiarized myself with that a little bit and was sort of surprised they made musical out of it. But was very excited."
Emily Morrison has equal fun as Mrs. Howell, with a seemingly-endless wardrobe aboard for a "three-hour tour".
"I've got a lot of fun, vintage pieces I get to wear. I've got a lot of wigs. Got a lot of hats. It's a lot of fun."
No matter where you stand on the "Mary Ann or Ginger" debate, you have to admire the perfect casting of the two women filling those roles.
"It's a classic. Everybody knows what it is. So it's super fun to be able to perform, and make so many good friends too," Chole Kernas says, complete with that famous gingham blouse.
"It's so much fun and it's just like joyous," observes Luidlima Karaseva, who sparkles as "Ginger". "And it really feels like an episode of Gilligan's Island, just a musical style."
Complete with those wacky inventions, prompting me to ask Benjamin Kolis if his turn as The Professor will help with his real-life coconut skills.
"Yeah, I mean it's already augmenting my already impressive resume of horse sounds," as he imitates the classic clop-clop motion. "But you know, now I've got satellite launches and all kinds of things."
It's a healthy dose of silly nostalgia, and a little bittersweet considering last year's passing of Dawn Wells and all the others except Tina Louise.
"Mary Ann is such an iconic character, and I want to keep as classic as I can, especially with the passing being so recent,' Kernas told MTN News. "I just want to hopefully bring memory to her. And have people feel the nostalgia and happiness that they were when they were kids watching her."
Seitz Ayers says it's a simple formula.
"It begins with a problem. Has a solution and a plot twist. And then you have to find two more solutions to get to the slapstick joy. And it always ends up a little bit tidy in the end and everyone's usually pretty happy even though they're still stuck on the island." - Seitz Ayers
"Gilligan's Island - The Musical" plays through next weekend at Missoula Community Theater at MCT.