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Theatre Review (Burbank, CA): Dames At Sea at the Colony Theatre

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In 1966 a small musical called Dames At Sea opened at the Off-Off-Broadway Café Cino under the title Dames At Sea or Golddiggers Afloat. It starred the still unknown Bernadette Peters and launched her fabulous career. The show reopened Off-Broadway at the Bowery Lane Theatre in 1968 and then transferred to the Theatre De Lys in 1969, played a total of 575 performances, and since has been performed around the world. Dames At Sea is now getting a lovely production at the Colony Theatre in Burbank.

The book and lyrics were co-authored by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller. Jim Wise was the composer. The current production has a strong creative staff. Todd Nielsen is at the helm as director. He does a good job of staging the play in such a small space. Where he goes a bit overboard is in the excessive style of acting used. You can’t spoof a spoof and a straighter approach might have worked better.

Dean Mora is the musical director and though unseen behind a curtain, gets good vocal performances from his cast. Lisa Hopkins does a grand job of choreographing this tap-happy show, again in such a small space.

The cast is small but talented. In the role of the diva, Heather Ayers acts up a storm and has a nice belt. Tessa Grady is the sweet-faced heroine who gets her big break in the show. She really came to life for me in her big number at the end of the show. Shanon Mari Mills is spot-on as the soubrette or the wisecracking sidekick. She is wonderful in the show.

The male side of the cast is composed of veteran Dink O’Neal as the stage director and ship captain. He does a good job with both roles. Jeffrey Scott Parsons is Ruby’s hero and boyfriend. This winning lad can sure sing and dance. Justin Michael Wilcox plays Lucky, the boyfriend of the soubrette. He reminded me of Jules Munchin in On The Town.

Dames at Sea is playing at the Colony Theatre until May 13.

About Robert Machray