Frolicking with the talented cast of Infinity Theatre’s Dames at Sea is like time travel to a kinder, safer, gentler time, with the best tap dance hoofing this side of New York City’s 42nd Street, and who doesn’t need that every once in awhile?
That it was directed and choreographed by trailblazer Randy Skinner says it all—Skinner worked with such legends as Ginger Rogers, Cyd Charisse, and Ann Miller to name a few. In his hands, and with singers and dancers who can deliver the goods, Dames at Sea is a show-stopping hit.
Skinner is ably assisted by Associate Director and Choreographer Emily Morgan, and dance captain, Cody Davis, a tall lanky good looking Tommy Tune look-alike who sings and dances of a storm.
The story is simple enough– songwriting sailor guy meets and falls for a just-in-from-Utah sweet lass who just wants to sing and dance, dance, dance. Add helpful roommate trying to snag her own guy, and a prima donna diva grabbing at the sailor as well as any spotlight she sees. Next, of course, a wrecking ball starts swinging to demolish the bankrupt theater, so where else can the show go on– because it must, of course, go on? On a docked battleship, of course, with lots of implausible and goofy twists, buck-eyed humor, silly set-ups, brushes of politically incorrect asides, and of course singing and dancing to die for.
Megan Kelley and Eric Huffman as Ruby and Dick pour on the charm as the lovers trying to make their way to stardom and into each other’s hearts along the way. They’re both terrific in the song and dance department and have wonderful chemistry.
The first time they spot each other, she literally swoons into his arms after which they break out in “It’s You.” Darien Crago’s character, Joan, on the other hand has been trying to snag her guy Lucky, (Cody Davis) for years and can barely get a nibble despite their cute duet, “Choo Choo Honeymoon.” (No spoiler alert but she eventually gets Lucky, in more ways than one.)
Obstacles mean nothing to this bunch. For example, the vixen Mona Kent, played with high-kicking swagger by Kristie Kerwin, lets nothing deter her climb to fame and fortune, including literally climbing to fix her name to get top billing on the marquee. To get official clearance to perform, she wraps the Captain, talented veteran Erick Buckley around her little finger but he’s grinning too wide to complain.
Costume designer Jessa-Raye Court does a marvelous job not just with Diva Mona who comes out in one show-stopping shimmery outfit after another, but also the other characters starting with swab the deck sailor uniforms of course, then form-fitted tight, hot-pants styles for the ladies, the commander’s regal sailor whites, crisp enough to salute, even yellow singing-in-the rain gear, which complemented the lyrics about needing one’s rubbers for a rainy day.
See? A long-ago, far-away, sweetly innocently time, which is also reflected in the beautifully detailed and individualized bridal dresses for a gorgeous finale. Scenic consultant Jake Ewonus successfully converts the simple stage into a festive battleship, and music director Mike Pettry keeps the music popping for the high-stepping, happy feet.
Just finishing their second season, married theatre professionals Anna Roberts Ostroff & Alan Ostroff have consistently brought in New York caliber high-quality performances to the modest, affordable, and accessible setting. That’s a winning combination for their close-out summer musical season. The “Navy-crazy musical” Dames at Sea is tailor made for Annapolis as well as the entire metro area. Besides, having a chance to see the work of legendary director Randy Skinner, known for his “elegant, classic style of choreography,” is a special opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.
Plans are already underway for Infinity to mount “one of the most charming musicals ever written” next summer. If that doesn’t tweak your interest to start your Mapquest calculations, nothing will.
Dames at Sea
Book and Lyrics George Haimsohn and Robin Miller
Music by Jim Wise
Directed and Choreographed by Randy Skinner
Produced by Infinity Theater
Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson
Running Time: 2 hours, with 1 intermission
Mary Johnson . Baltimore Sun
Susah Scher . MDTheatreGuide
Amanda Gunther . DCMetroTheaterArts