Is there anything Broadway shows love more than to make a show within a show? Before you roll your eyes at yet another in this genre, know that Dames at Sea was ahead of its time in identifying this culture phenomenon. This is the refreshing reminder that not every show has to grapple with extreme circumstances and everything on the line.
A small-town girl shows up in New York with dreams of grandeur. Does she have what it takes? Sure, why not? Let's get behind her dream. The 1930s, we come to accept, were full of Broadway musicals operating within these lofty, yet tight parameters. And there's not much more to it. Leave your skepticism at the door, though. This one's made for us to laugh along with.
The old-timey references remain intact and will be lost on some in the contemporary crowd. But that's all alright. The characters are so over-the-top that you don't feel at a loss, you're welcomed into their insanity with open arms. Mona Kent (Lesli Margherita) is the star of the show-within-a-show, also aptly titled Dames at Sea, however in our production it's Ruby (Eloise Kropp). She rises to the top in one day in that setting, and inside of two hours now. Margherita steals so many scenes with her knowing glances and some impressive comedic timing.
When Ruby meets Dick, played by Cary Tedder, a sailor who happens to hail from the same town in Utah she just left, they hit it off at first sight and secure their bond. Tedder is too talented to be a simple sailor, though: He's a songwriter with a dream, too, and we get to see his hopes and dreams play out on the same stage. How will they work their way out of a pickle? The magic of Broadway will carry them, with a high-powered tune.
Jonathan Tunick's and Rob Berman's music carries the night and keeps everyone's disbelief suspended. The music and dance is the most substance you'll see and hear on this particular stage, amid the hysterics and hijinks you came for.