When Cathy Sheridan nails the tricky trumpet licks in the overture to “Dames at Sea” and the other orchestra members, under Josh Zecher-Ross’ inspired direction, follow suit, you know you’re guaranteed yet another sparkling musical courtesy of C-R Productions.
‘Dames at Sea’
WHERE: C-R Productions, Cohoes Music Hall, 58 Remsen St., Cohoes
WHEN: Through Nov. 2
HOW MUCH: $32-$23
MORE INFO: 237-5858
This time it’s an homage to the 1930s movie musical, with book and lyrics by George Haimsohn & Robert Miller, and music by Jim Wise. If “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” then “parody must be flattery with its fingers crossed.”
Nod to the musicals
Indeed, this musical from 1966 pokes sweet fun at Busby Berkeley extravanganzas that often starred Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell. You know: Talented hopefuls from America’s heartland in the Depression come to New York City to star in a Broadway show. Poverty, jealous colleagues, gruff bosses, and the vagaries of love provide the plot twists, but finally our hero and heroine are looking at greener pastures.
Like all good parodies, “Dames at Sea” sends those theatrical conventions over the top.
Lines like “Say, you big lug” and “That two-bit phony” are delivered with a self-conscious scowl. The tough-as-nails Broadway director, Hennessy (Jerry Christakos) is even tougher; the self-absorbed leading lady, Mona Kent (Monica M. Wemitt), is narcissism personified; the young would-be Broadway composer, Dick (Peter Stoffan), is not above an exaggerated “gee whiz” and “gosh”; Joan (Rachael Lee) and Lucky (Christian Donnelly), the playful sidekicks, grin and canoodle till your teeth hurt; and Ruby (Darcy Wright) has more darn innocence than a baby in utero.
Director/choreographer Tralen Doler, who helmed last year’s excellent “42nd Street,” has taken off the gloves with this production.
The broader the better, and there’s no bit broader than the one featuring Wemitt and the 88s. Priceless.
His Berkley knock-off choreography of “Raining in My Heart,” replete with twirling umbrellas, is delightful.
The “Echo Waltz” and “Beguine” numbers allow old pros Wemitt and Christakos to ham it up, and thank God for that!
Dance? Get a load of Lee and Donnelly on “Choo-Choo Honeymoon,” covering the entire stage, with a smile and nary a hint of breathlessness.
Stoffan and Donnelly’s tap routine on “Dames at Sea” is a killer. And Wright’s voice, seamless from one register to the next, squeezes every gooey sentiment out of “The Sailor of My Dreams” and “Raining in My Heart.”
Listen closely to the lyrics. “There’s Something About You” makes reference to an El Greco sketch: hardly complimentary. “Star Tar” refers to Ruby’s popularity with the troops, but she inadvertently comes across as a little loose.
There’s nice work by costumer Khryn Diotte Rigney, set designer Jen Price, tech director Max Zorn, and stage manager Kim Crawley. The spotlighting is fine, but some dark spots stage left and right might bear revisiting.
Doler’s tap dance curtain call shows off this marvelous sextet to good effect one last time and sends you home thinking that we, too, might survive this recession.
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Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts