Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Dames at Sea"

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note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey

Darling "Dames"

by Beverly Creasey

Before "Forbidden Broadway" began sending up Broadway musicals George Haimson, Robin Miller and Jim Wise wrote a sparkling spoof of those fabulous Gershwin/Porter/Warren/Berlin extravaganzas of the '30s and '40s.

"Dames at Sea" shares the ditsy plot of "42nd Street". You remember --- the little girl from Allentown who dreams of dancing on Broadway --- who gets her chance when the leading lady breaks her leg on opening night. "You're going out there a youngster," says the suave producer, "but you're coming back a star!"

This ingenue hails from Utah. The show has relocated to the deck of a battleship --- and the leading lady has gotten seasick. To tell the truth, "42nd Street" et al are practically parodies of themselves, so tweak them takes very little to get a giggle.

Director Sharon Bisantz makes the most of the hilarious clichés in "Dames", especially the physical humor. Linda Goetz, a superb singer/dancer gets to show off her funny bone as the haughty leading lady in Bisantz' adorable slapshtick. Goetz slips right out of Captain Bill Spera's arms and onto the floor in the sensational "Beguine" number (choreographed by Bisantz). Just when you think nothing could be funnier, Bisantz throws another the adorable "Good Times Are Here to Stay" (with Charley Borden's help on tap).

Linda Sughrue and Bruce Williams make first rate second bananas, delivering the honeymoon spoof "Choo Choo Honeymoon" with a butter-melt-in-your-mouth earnestness --- not an easy task with all this tongue-in-cheek material.

As the leads, Dave Garison and Ann McCoy embody the sweet naiveté of those aforementioned musicals. Garison can offer up a lyric like "When I look into those big brown eyes, all I want to do is... sing" absolutely straightfaced. McCoy projects the innocence of a kewpie doll and sings like a dream...and she gets to tap like Eleanor Powell in the mock military salute "Star Tar". Together they deliver the cornball "It's You" ("It's not Amy Semple or Shirley Temple, it's you!") as if it were twenty-four caret Berlin.

Richard DeMone's spirited orchestra, and clever period costumes from Norma McGrath and Genevieve McCulloch, lit so softly by John MacKenzie on Michele Boll's ingenious land and sea sets make this "Dames" a delicious treat. Don't miss the boat!

"Dames at Sea" (till 10 June)
Abbott Memorial Theater, 9 Spring Street @ Joel's Way, WALTHAM

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