Review: Dames at Sea

DAMES AT SEA John Bolton and Lesli Margherita in photo by Jeremy Daniel, 2015

Goofy, giddy, silly, old-fashioned fun – this show’s got tons of it. If you find it funny the the male romantic lead is named Dick, then you’ll have a good time. If you get why it’s funny that the female lead is named Ruby, then you are Dames at Sea‘s target audience, and will have a great time. If you know who they’re talking about when they say “That’s not a fat man, that’s Elsa Maxwell,” you’ll have a blast!

Plot? Dames at Sea makes a comic point of it’s gossamer-thin plot. There are sailors and chorus girls, of course. Our chorus girl heroine faints, but is caught by a sailor who just walked in the stage door, and instantly they launch into a love duet. It’s a celebration of the pure unserious entertainment offered on Broadway and in the movies in the middle of the last century, nothing more or less than that.

Director-choreographer Randy Skinner is the perfect person to helm this charmer. His tap numbers from the 2001 revival of 42nd Street still thunder in my brain, and he serves up the same tap-happy madness here, on a smaller scale. He gets the tone almost exactly right.

My only real complaint being that it’s not as gay as it could be. Dames at Sea was first performed at the tiny, way gay “birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway” Caffe Cino. Skinner’s production is appropriately campy, but more in a “summer stock” kind of way than a “gay cafe” kind of way. It’s a fine distinction, but one that matters to me, anyway.

Not a big deal – I still find plenty to enjoy in Dames at Sea. Particularly fun is Lesli Margherita’s over-the-top portrayal of diva Mona Kent. Now here’s a performance that hits that “gay cafe” tone I alluded to above, bigger and broader than many a drag queen. Fun, fun, fun, and definitely recommended.

For tickets, click here.

To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.

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