Carol Stream Native Stars In ‘Escape To Margaritaville’

CHICAGO (CBS) — For so-called “Parrottheads,” a musical featuring Jimmy Buffett songs seems natural.

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(Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago)

For Carol Stream native Eric Petersen, it was a chance to work with an icon.

“I’m a lifelong Parrotthead, so I knew when I heard there was going to be a Jimmy Buffett musical, I knew it would be epic, it would be so awesome,” Petersen said.

And working with the legendary singer, songwriter was a career highlight, he says.

“When you’re meeting him, you feel all that magnetic energy, but he really is — he just looks you in the eye and says, ‘hey man, how you doing.’ He’s so amazing,” Petersen said.

Petersen plays Brick, the bartender and best friend of the lead character.

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(Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago)

“We’re living on this island and two lovely ladies come to visit us. That’s one of the themes of the show, meeting somebody in this vacation environment. Is it real love or vacation love? All the characters look at it in different ways and then how do you kinda square that off.”

The musical features 27 of Buffett’s songs — some original and many beloved favorites.

Jimmy Buffett has gained a cult-like status over his 40 years in the business.

“People are really loving the show. People who are really Jimmy Buffett fans, or for just regular theater goes, they are all having a great time,” said Lisa Howard, who plays Tammy.

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Lisa Howard and Eric Petersen. (Photo: Lisa Fielding/WBBM)

“Audiences are really dancing in the aisles,” laughed Petersen. “Literally,” Howard added.

The show debuted in La Jolla, California, then moved to Houston, New Orleans and is now making its stop in Chicago before moving to New York for its Broadway stint.

Petersen graduated from Glenbard North High School and Peoria’s Bradley University. He played “Shrek” in the national tour and also landed the role of Dewy Finn in Broadway’s “School of Rock.” Additionally, he was a main player in the 2014 comedy “Kirstie” and has appeared in “NCIS,” “CSI” and “The Big Bang Theory.”

He says he can’t wait to perform before a hometown audience.

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“Escape to Margaritaville” debuts at the Oriental Theater on Thursday and runs through Dec. 2nd. (Photo courtesy of Broadway in Chicago)

“I think it’s going to be a amazing. So many of my friends here are huge Parrotheads. I remember going to see Jimmy at Alpine Valley every year. So I know the audiences are going to just go through the roof,” said Petersen.

“I’ve only been in town for 17 hours and I’m so happy and filled with joy. It’s not only seeing the sights, eating the food I love — but there’s something about the Midwest and the people in Chicago. We’re the best people in the world and I’m not ashamed to say it. Being in town feels like — these are my people. I’m home.”

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