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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Drama student working toward MFA in London directs ‘Escape to Margaritaville’

By Ed Condran For The Spokesman-Review

Some of Collin Pittman’s earliest memories are of belting out Jimmy Buffett tunes while in the cab of his father’s tractor on their Rosalia farm.

“I remember singing ‘Margaritaville’ and some of Jimmy Buffett’s other songs when I was a little kid on my parent’s wheat and barley farm,” Pittman said. “Those were good times that I’ll never forget.”

Pittman, 23, isn’t that far removed from those good times since he’s still a college student, who is working on his MFA in theater direction at East 15 Acting School in London.

The Texas Christian University alum is a young but experienced director, who will call the shots on “Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville,” which runs from Friday to Aug. 20 at the Spokane Valley Summer Theater.

This will be the very first SVST production not directed by SVST’s Executive Artistic Director Yvonne A.K. Johnson since she joined the company in 2016.

“I’m very grateful to be given such a great opportunity and I appreciate the trust from Yvonne for handing me the baton for a mainstage musical,” Pittman said. “But I believe this is the perfect show for me to step into since it has that summer feel and it’s upbeat.”

The “Escape to Margaritaville” actors range from seniors to seniors, as in high school seniors to senior citizens. “I’m excited about working with such a multigenerational cast,” Pittman said. “As a young director, I communicate well with the younger people in our cast but I’m also connecting with those who are on the other end of the age spectrum in our show. What I love is how those of every age are so into Jimmy Buffett. That speaks to Buffett’s cultural impact, which is enormous.”

Joshua Spencer, 27, who plays Brick, the bartender and best friend of the lead, Tully, is enjoying working with Pittman. “It’s been a great deal of fun with Collin and the show itself,” Spencer said. “This is such an amusing and fun show. I have fun bopping around all over the stage.”

The Central Valley class of 2014 alum is returning from New York, where Spencer has been for the past nine years. “I left right after high school,” Spencer said. “I had to take it to the next level. I grew up in a dance school. I was all about dance.”

Spencer came of age hoofing at Donna’s School of Dance, which was run by his grandmother. “I tried acting after I found out they were looking for tappers for a production of ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at Central Valley,” Spencer said. “It was one of the best moves I’ve made.”

“Escape to Margaritaville” is the first show that has prompted a return home for Spencer. “It’s really special coming back here to perform,” Spencer said. “My family and so many friends are here. It’s been a fun collaborative process. It’s a great way for me to end the summer.”

Spencer will return to New York and Pittman will head back to London after “Escape to Margaritaville” wraps. However, the latter will return in 2024. “I could get a job in another market but I want to come back,” Pittman said. “It’s a rare opportunity here. The caliber of work we have produced is excellent. I love working with this company. There’s no guarantee I would enjoy working with another company as much as I enjoy it here with Spokane Valley Summer Theatre.”