Winooski, VT, Jun 19, 2009 — St. Michael's Playhouse in Colchester has opened their season with the musical Dames at Sea running through June 27. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has this review.
St. Michael's Playhouse in Colchester has opened their season with a delightfully funny production of DAMES AT SEA, a lively spoof of 1930s Hollywood movie musicals. With book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller and music by Jim Wise, the show consists of tuneful songs, spiffy tap-dancing and a plot that contains every theatre cliché you can think of such as, "You're going out there a chorus girl, but you're coming back a star." Think of Ann Miller tapping away on the deck of a battleship and you've got the idea.
Rachel Kurland's costumes are pretty much perfect, right down to the gold dollar signs on Mona's tap shoes. They're especially fun in "Singapore Sue." My only quibble is Ruby's wig, which seems too big for her small face.
Carl Tallent's set is also very good, particularly the ship in Act II. He's designed an upper level that provides a surprise alternate playing space in Act I. It's used very effectively during "That Mister Man of Mine," highlighted by Jeffrey E. Salzberg's excellent lighting. I got the giggles at the sudden stars in Act II.
The lively accompaniment is provided by Musical Director Nate Venet on one of the twin pianos, Cathryn Gaylord on the other and the always fine Rich Magnuson on drums. Mr. Venet has also done a nice job with the vocal blend.
All the cast members are good actors, singers and tappers. Mark Tuminelli does a nice job as Lucky, the leading man's sidekick, especially in "Singapore Sue." As Joan, Ruby's wisecracking pal, Tessa Faye has caught the style perfectly and her performance of "Good Times Are Here to Stay" closes Act I with a bang.
As Ruby, the young hopeful from Utah, Lindsay Sutton does a nice job on "Sailor of My Dreams." I found myself smiling through her duets with Dick, well-played by David Rosetti. He did a great job with "Broadway Baby." He also has one of my favorite lines. "When I look into those big blue eyes of yours there's only one thing I want to do . . . sing!"
Stephen Hope, whose performance I enjoyed last summer as Barnum, is very good as both the stage manager Hennesy and the Captain. His turn with a feather boa is a hoot. His "Beguine" duet with Mona, in a very funny performance by Abby Lee, is alone worth the price of a ticket. Her determined Act I exit and re-entrance is hilarious.
Keith Andrews has done a fine job of staging and directing. He's avoided the trap of playing the spoof and has aimed for sincerity, which makes the material even funnier. His choreography is exceptionally good for "The Beguine" and "Raining in My Heart."
This is a strong production, well sung and very funny. Producing Artistic Director Chuck Tobin has the right idea: start the summer with a show that sends the audience out smiling and happy.
On a scale of one to five the St. Michael's Playhouse production of DAMES AT SEA gets four and five-eighths covered bridges. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.