Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Dames at Sea"

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note: entire contents copyright 2008 by Beverly Creasey

Ditsy "Dames"
at Turtle Lane

Reviewed by Beverly Creasey

DAMES AT SEA is a silly, and I do mean silly, send-up of those beloved Broadway shows which, if we were to be totally honest, we’d have to admit are pretty hokey. The Turtle Lane Playhouse in Newton is taking out the tongue-in-cheek spoof (by George Haimson, Robin Miller and Jim Wise) for a sail through May 25th. If you’re familiar with FORBIDDEN BROADWAY, think of DAMES as its precursor.

Director John MacKenzie, who also designed the lights and set, is determined to milk every single moment for its comic possibilities. The songs themselves first amuse you because you recognize the parody---then you notice they’re pretty clever on their own. If you’re a fan of 42nd STREET or SAIL AWAY or ANYTHING GOES and more, you’ll recognize the source material in the cheeky songs. Avital Asuleen’s mock SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN choreography is awfully cute and the Eleanor Powell STARS & STRIPES send-up is right on the nose, or should I say toes. Tapping is the show’s salvation and the TLP cast is gangbusters in the buck and wing department.

Kerrin Clark (in the Bernadette Peters role) has all the powerhouse talent she would need to win the title of Miss Bay State---and surprise, surprise, she did just that last year. Danielle Morellino McLean is a veteran of toe tapping musical tours and it shows (in the role of the haughty star who falls ill, leaving Cupie Doll Clark to save the show). Brian Wolfe-Leonard is a dead ringer for Noel Coward as the Navy captain who lets the “kids put on a show” on his battleship…but it’s the conservatory students in the cast who make a significant contribution to DAMES.

Turtle Lane often casts musical theater majors from Boston Conservatory and it pays off. Kristina Bjornstad and Michael Reckling’s “Choo-Choo Honeymoon” is a showstopper, as is Bjornstad and company’s high voltage “Good Times Are Here To Stay.” Phil Crumrine is aw-shucks adorable in his little sailor suit (costumes by Richard Itczak) as the fledgling songwriter who wins Clark’s heart. (If you’ve ever been to a musical at Boston Conservatory, you know they turn out performers who can do it all.)

Music director Wayne Ward on piano, Steve Jounakos on drums and bassist Ed Lucie even get on stage, perched like big guns on top of the ship in Act II. If you’re a diehard fan of American musical theater, then you’ll get a chuckle out of DAMES.

"Dames at Sea" (2 - 25 May)
283 Melrose Street, NEWTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide