DAMES AT SEA – A musical pastiche of the golden age of Hollywood

DAMES AT SEA – A musical pastiche of the golden age of Hollywood by arrangement with Samuel French Ltd, which is book & lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, music by Jim Wise, director Kirk Jameson,  choreographer Drew McOnie,  musical director Richard Bates, designer Kinsley Hall, lighting designer Steve Miller and produced by Sasha Regan for The Union Theatre.

In the early 1930’s a Broadway musical is in rehearsal. It is a lavish spectacle, the vision of eccentric director/choreographer/producer Hennessey to keep spirits high in amongst the depression –suffering New Yorkers. Mona Kent is the star of the show, a temperamental diva whose tears and tantrums are the stuff of legend. Joan is the wisecracking chorus girl who, during the course of rehearsals re-kindles her romance with former boyfriend Lucky, a sailor. Fresh from Utah arrives Ruby, a bright but naïve dancer with talent and ambition. She falls for Dick, another sailor and aspiring songwriter after they discover a shared history back in Utah.

There’s good news for Ruby when she is given a part in the chorus but bad news soon follows as the company learns of the planned demolition of the theatre. In a desperate attempt to keep the show alive Dick and Lucky persuade the Captain of their ship to allow the show to be stage there.

Mona recognises the Captain as a former boyfriend but is soon found by Ruby kissing Dick. Ruby is upset but is reassured by Dick of the misunderstanding. The show is almost ready, the ship has been turned into a makeshift theatre and then… Mona gets seasick. After she is unable to perform all turn to Ruby who, at the last minutes, in true Hollywood style, steps in and saves the day.

George Haimsohn, Jim Wise and Robin Miller originally wrote Dames At Sea as a sketch. It was a spoof of the large-scale film musicals of the 1920’s and 30’s by such Hollywood greats as Busby Berkley. Ruby was based on the Ruby Keeler types of these films. After a positive start the sketch was lengthened to a 50 minute musical and, in a case of life imitating art, one of the leads dropped out, to be replaced by the then new and unknown Bernadette Peters. Entitled Dames At Sea, or Golddiggers Afloat, it was stage by Robert Dahdah at the Caffe Cino in 1966.

New York Times, 1968 “Dames at Sea is a real winner, a little Gem of a musical.”

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