Dames at Sea made waves last Saturday. Laughter kept rolling through an audience charmed by the breezy comedy and thrilled by the top-notch tap dancing and singing. The final offering of The Colony Theatre’s 2011-12 season, Dames at Sea is a happy toast to the year’s unbroken chain of strong performances. Expect word-of-mouth to draw SRO audiences in the weeks to come.
We’re back in the early 1930s, when economic hardship was a hard, cold rain across America. But we fought back with great tunes and great shows, like Busby Berkeley’s immortal song and dance numbers. Twenty years later, in the early 1950s, Dames at Sea writers George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, and composer Jim Wise, took their love of Busby Berkeley and concentrated it on a small cast and small stage.
Director TODD NIELSEN and Musical Director DEAN MORA created a pitch-perfect tone for Dames
at Sea, with its can-do optimism and affectionate homage to the folks that made America smile through its tears. Choreographer LISA HOPKINS packed her dance numbers with equal parts precision and hilarity, making her six dancers at times seem like sixty. (And you’ll howl at what happens to the set at the end of the first act.)
And the great cast paid it all off in spades: Small town ingénue Ruby (played by TESSA GRADY), her sailor love interest and aspiring songwriter Dick (played by JEFFREY SCOTT PARSONS), worldly-wise hoofer Joan (played by SHANON MARI MILLS), her sailor boyfriend and Dick’s buddy Lucky (played by JUSTIN MICHAEL WILCOX), prima donna Mona (played by HEATHER AYERS) and beleaguered producer/star-struck battleship captain (DINK O’NEAL in a dual role).
The actors had achieved that wonderful state of “flow” that is the reward of years of hard effort
honing their craft, and they carried us along with them, laughing all the way. (And long effort too. I asked Tessa Grady if she had been dancing since six or seven to be such an impressive tap dancer now. Her answer: “Since three!”)
Dames at Sea continues through Sunday, may 13. Performances are Thursday and Fridays at 8:00 p.m.; Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.; and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $42; student, senior and group discounts are available. The Colony Theatre is in Burbank at 555 N. Third Street (at Cypress). Call the Colony Theatre Box Office at 818/558-7000 ext. 15 or online at www.ColonyTheatre.Org.