Dames at Sea BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich
  • NY TIMES

  • TIME OUT

  • VULTURE

  • HR

  • WSJ

Opening Night:
October 22, 2015
Closing:
January 3, 2016

Theater: Helen Hayes Theatre / 240 West 44th Street, New York, NY, 10036

Synopsis: 

"Dames at Sea" is a tap-happy gem of a show that celebrates the golden era of movie musicals with dazzling dames and a heart as big as the ocean! Ruby steps off a bus in Manhattan, and into her first Broadway show, but hours before the opening night curtain is to rise, the cast learns their theater is being demolished, so it is “all hands on deck” to find a stage to put on the show. Featuring rollicking tap dancing, love at first sight, joyful music and a boatload of laughs, this glittering musical extravaganza has everything you need to sweep your glooms away.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Dames at Sea

    ‘Dames at Sea’ Skips Onto Broadway

    Charles Isherwood

    October 22, 2015: What’s that old expression? Oh, yes, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be. That phrase floated through my head more than once during the Broadway revival of “Dames at Sea,” which opened at the Helen Hayes Theater on Thursday. This pert spoof of 1930s movie musicals was a surprise smash when it opened almost a half-century ago, in 1966, at the tiny Off Off Broadway powerhouse Caffe Cino. Nearly 50 years on, however, with Broadway having thoroughly strip-mined the songs and styles of the shows that made up the so-called Golden Age of the musical, the little show that could, and did, seems to give off a faint whiff of mothballs. But it still provides lively diversions for those in search of yesteryear’s delights, particularly the skillful pastiche songs by Jim Wise (music) and George Haimsohn and Robin Miller (lyrics). Variously wistful and perky, they include “It’s You,” “Broadway Baby,” “Choo-Choo Honeymoon” and “There’s Something About You.” And there’s a whole lot of hearty hoofing, although the exuberant choreography by Randy Skinner, who also directs, had so many dance breaks that I eventually found myself pining for a break from all the breaks.

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  • TIME OUT NEW YORK REVIEW OF Dames at Sea

    Dames at Sea Theater review

    Adam Feldman

    October 22, 2015: "Dames at Sea" was launched in 1966 at the downtown coffeehouse Caffe Cino, where its affectionate send-up of 1930s movie musicals tapped—or, rather, tap-danced—into nostalgia for the busily silly spectacles of yesteryear. Now it’s on Broadway, where it lands like a harmless piece of wet fluff. The first 20 minutes of wide-eyed antics are cute; then your mind starts to wander. "Dames at Sea’s" mild pastiche (of plots like "42nd Street’s" and songs by the likes of Gershwin and Porter) is passable but passé—imagine a revival, half a century from now, of a Fringe show about the ’80s—and it’s presented with tongue so far in cheek that it can’t say much at all.

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  • VULTURE REVIEW OF Dames at Sea

    Can Dames At Sea Work at Battleship Size?

    Jesse Green

    October 22, 2015: Mathematicians, or theater producers, have determined that the ideal interval separating the emergence of an entertainment genre from its recurrence as a musical spoof is 35 years — about the time it takes for the youngsters who first made the form popular to become oldsters eager to see it sent up. Anyway, that’s the interval that worked for a spate of shows in the ’50s and ’60s that poked fun at material from three decades earlier. "The Boy Friend," which introduced Julie Andrews in 1953, parodied Roaring ’20s musicals; "Little Mary Sunshine," in 1959, did the same to ’20s operetta. "Dames at Sea," which originated Off–Off Broadway in 1966, took a crack at ’30s Warner Bros. musicals, but was different from the others in a way we would now call camp. Instead of sticking close to the presentational style of Busby Berkeley spectaculars like "Gold Diggers" of 1933, it literally belittled itself, making do with a cast of six and an orchestra of three on a stage barely big enough to contain Bernadette Peters.

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  • HOLLYWOOD REPORTER REVIEW OF Dames at Sea

    Reimagining the Busby Berkeley-era extravaganza in miniature

    David Rooney

    October 22, 2015: How does an innocent girl from Centerville, Utah, who gets off the bus in New York one morning with nothing but a pair of tap shoes to her name, end up a Broadway star and the darling of the Navy by evening? That's the kind of blatantly harebrained plot that propelled the escapist movie musicals of the 1930s, in which love at first sight overcame all obstacles and no challenge was ever great enough to crush the urge to put on a show. Dames at Sea reinvents one of those big-screen spectacles as a shrunken stage musical — a baby Busby Berkeley if you will — with an appealing cast of six that makes its featherweight pleasures infectious. Whether there's an audience for this effusive salute to a kitschy, corny genre that most Broadway theatergoers have either forgotten or never knew remains an open question — especially when recent seasons have seen comparable confections in more lavish presentations, with superior songs by such masters as the Gershwins and Cole Porter.

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  • WALL STREET JOURNAL REVIEW OF Dames at Sea

    ‘Dames at Sea’ Review: Not Quite Clever Enough

    Terry Teachout

    October 22, 2015: “Dames at Sea,” the ultra-campy 1966 musical about the you’ll-come-back-a-star backstage movie musicals of the early ’30s, has finally made it to Broadway. I’m not sure why, since the point of the show, which employs just six performers (one of whom plays two parts) and whose original downtown run opened the door to fame for Bernadette Peters, is that it’s a low-budget miniature send-up of the genre. Staging it on Broadway would seem to be somewhat beside the point, though this gussied-up revival, directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner, is nothing if not charming. If you like high-velocity tap dancing, you’ll see (and hear) plenty of it, and Mr. Skinner flings his tiny cast across the smallish stage of the 597-seat Helen Hayes Theatre with endless visual ingenuity, aided and abetted by Jonathan Tunick’s flawless period-style orchestrations for the eight-piece band.

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