Dames at Seatesttest
Dames at Sea offers top-notch singing and tap-dancing in a lighthearted musical theater romp.
This small-cast, low-key homage to the great days of 1930s’ musicals has all the requisite and appropriately named characters. From Utah the ingénue Ruby arrives backstage at a Broadway theater without a dime to her name and joins the cast of the musical on her first day in New York. She makes friends with Joan, a smart-talking dancer. A sailor, Dick, who also happens to be an aspiring songwriter, arrives to instant infatuation with Ruby. Another sailor, Lucky, turns out to be Joan’s boyfriend. Add the show’s producer, Hennesey, and the over-the-top arrogant star, Mona, and you have the cast.
To say the story is slight is to give it too much due. The Broadway theater goes under the wrecking ball, the two sailors convince their captain to stage the show on their battleship, Joan and Dick have misunderstandings but resolve them and, as in all good theater stories, the show goes on.
Directed and choreographed by multiple Tony nominee Randy Skinner [see Leigh Glenn’s story on page 2], Dames at Sea is all about dancers and singers.
Erick Buckley — as both Hennesey and the ship’s captain — has a resonant, powerful voice and good comedic timing.
Darien Crago’s Joan has the wisecracking sidekick role down pat. Cody Davis’ Lucky, her boyfriend, matches her perfectly. Their “Choo-Choo Honeymoon” is a standout.
Eric Huffman’s Dick has a dazzling smile and his dance works very well.
Kristie Kerwin plays meanie Mona for the ham and demanding star stereotype that she is. “The Beguine,” a duet between her and the captain, is over-played to the perfect level to make it funny but not campy.
Megan Kelley as the newcomer Ruby has the only real emotional arc to cover, from exuberance to deflated hopes to nervous energy to success on stage. She has the acting, singing and dancing skills to make the whole show work.
The glory days of big musicals are dormant. More practical, smaller-scale homages like Dames at Sea keep alive the joy and delight of watching pros at work singing and dancing their hearts out and making magic.
Book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller. Music by Jim Wise. Director and choreographer: Randy Skinner. Music director: Mike Pettry with retired USNA bandleaders Raymond Ascione on reeds and Don Keller Jr. on trumpet. Stage manager: Carol Sullivan. Technical director: Alex Gorman.
Playing Th at 2pm and 7pm; FSa at 8pm; Su at 2pm thru Aug. 5. Children’s Theatre of Annapolis, Bay Head Park, 1661 Bay Head Rd., Annapolis. $19-$38: 877-501-8499; www.infinitytheatrecompany.com.