One of the Escape To Margaritaville stars talks theater tours, cheeseburgers and his preference for brown liquor

Patrick Cogan's performing life started as an adolescent altar boy, and grew by watching his dad sing in a barbershop quartet. He eventually landed at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City in 1977. Now 61, and having enjoyed a career that mixed acting with work in the fashion industry and raising three kids with his wife, Cogan is one of the more experienced actors touring with Escape To Margaritaville, a Broadway musical-comedy based around the songs of Jimmy Buffett that opens an eight-show run in Spokane Tuesday.

We talked to Cogan about the show and life as a touring actor; his responses have been edited for length and clarity:

INLANDER: How would you pitch Escape To Margaritaville to somehow who isn't necessarily a Jimmy Buffett fan, or doesn't know his music?

COGAN: It's just a great time. We like to say, "Set your mind on island time." For two and a half hours, you're sitting in Margaritaville. There's audience participation. Even if you have just a passing acquaintance with Jimmy Buffett's music, you've heard it in movie soundtracks and commercials. The show itself is part Jimmy Buffett concert, part, you know, party.

Are there shows around the country where the Jimmy Buffett superfans, Parrotheads, have been out in force?

Well, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, of course. Jimmy came out to join us on opening night in Fort Lauderdale. He's come out twice. He's very involved, by the way. He visited us several times during rehearsals. Super nice guy. Everything you'd want to hear about Jimmy Buffett is absolutely true. Very approachable. When we opened in D.C., it was another great Parrothead town. There's actually an official Parrothead chapter. You can get a Parrothead vanity plate for your car. They're kind of rabid out there. He joined us on stage in D.C.

Wikipedia describes your role as JD as a "one-eyed beach bum." Is it hard to dance in an eye patch?

For me, dancing is a challenge regardless. The eyepatch is rigged, it's a wide-open mesh, but it still doesn't read from the audience. So I still have binocular vision, and that helps. I usually describe him as a one-eyed ukulele-playing lothario.

Do you actually like margaritas?

I love margaritas. They do not love me. I'm a brown liquor fan. But I love them. There's nothing I like better than a golden margarita on the rocks. Don't give me the blended stuff. Give me on the rocks, and with salt. But two of them will do me.

Are you a cheeseburger eater?

I am, indeed, a cheeseburger fan. And I like them just the way Jimmy describes them in his song "Cheeseburger in Paradise," lettuce and tomato. I don't know about Heinz 57, I'm more of a mustard fan. But yeah, lettuce, tomato, a big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer.

You did the national tour of The Full Monty. Did you actually have to go "full monty"?

Oh, you betcha. A quarter-million people have seen my naked buns. But it was OK. After I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, I moved to Sweden and was a singing waiter for about a year and a half. And in the Swedish culture, nudity is nothing. I quickly had to get over my American Puritanism when I was sitting in a public sauna with grandma, grandpa and all the grandkids, all of us buck naked and no one batting an eye. ♦

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About The Author

Dan Nailen

Dan Nailen is the managing editor of the Inlander, where he oversees coverage of arts and culture. He's previously written and edited for The Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City Weekly, Missoula Independent, Salt Lake Magazine, The Oregonian and KUER-FM. He grew up seeing the country in an Air Force family and studied...