The Musical That Launched Bernadette Peters’ Career
Dames at Sea played its first performance on Broadway on September 24, 2015 at the Helen Hayes Theatre. This musical had its world premiere in 1966 in an Off Off Broadway production starring Bernadette Peters, who would go on to receive seven Tony Award nominations and win two (for Song and Dance and Annie Get Your Gun). In 1968, the show transferred Off Broadway to Bouwerie Lane Theatre, followed by the Theater de Lys in 1969. For this production, Bernadette Peters took home the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical. In August of 1969, the musical then played in London’s Duchess Theatre, and Peters also starred in a regional production at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey in 1973. Still, despite all this success and notable beginnings as launching Bernadette Peters’ career, the show had not played on Broadway until this production. After beginning previews on September 24th, the show will officially open on October 22, 2015. The musical has book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, with music by Jim Wise. This production is directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner.
Though Dames at Sea had not played on Broadway until this year, it is actually a parody of a Broadway musical. Though originally premiering in the 1960s, the musical within the musical is set in the 1930s, parodying the style of movie musical made famous by Busby Berkeley, wherein a newly arrived chorus girl steps off the bus into New York City and becomes a Broadway star. The temperamental diva star is named Mona Kent, a wise-cracking chorus girl is named Joan, and the producer and director is named Hennesy. In this midst of the usual day to day, a new girl named Ruby arrives from Utah with nothing except for tap shoes in her luggage and a prayer in her heart. The moment she shows up, she faints in the arms of a young man named Dick, a sailor who aspires to be a song writer. Following that fiasco, Ruby is given a job in the chorus. Shortly thereafter, however, they are told that the theatre will be torn down and they will need to find another venue for the show. However, things go awry when they decide to rehearse the show on an actual ship. When the star Mona gets sea sick, Ruby is able to step into the lead part and finds the fame she was looking for all along.
An Excellent Cast and Creative Team
The lead part of Ruby the chorus girl turned star is played by Eloise Kropp, who has been on Broadway only once before, in the chorus of the recent revival of On the Town. The part of the original star Mona Kent is played by Lesli Margherita, a British star who has been on Broadway only once before as well, in Matilda the Musical as Mrs. Wormwood. The part of Dick is played by Cary Tedder, who has previously been seen in Honeymoon in Vegas, Big Fish, Memphis, and The Times They Are A-Changin’. The part of Hennesy and the Captain is played by John Bolton, whose previously shows include A Christmas Story the Musical, Curtains, Spamalot, Contact, Titanic, and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Other cast members include Mara Davi and Danny Gardner. The show has set design by Anna Louizos, costume design by David Woolard, lighting design by Ken Billington and Jason Kantrowitz, and sound design by Scott Lehrer.