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Musical ‘Dames at Sea’ opens tonight at freeFall

Bill DeYoung

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All hands on deck: The cast of "Dames at Sea" gets busy. Photo: Thee Photo Ninja.

After almost 18 months adrift on a sea of necessary compromise, freeFall Theatre is back in its element with Dames at Sea, a tap-happy musical that harkens back to Hollywood’s Golden-Age smiley-faced dance-o-ramas.

Opening tonight, this is freeFall’s first fully-staged production, indoors in the black box, since March 2020.

With book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, and music by Jim Wise, Dames at Sea is the fairy-dust tale of a small town gal named Ruby, arriving fresh and hopeful in New York City with nothing but a pair of tap shoes in her suitcase and dreaming of Broadway stardom. She can sing – and boy, can she dance!

There are elements here of Singin’ in the Rain, 42nd Street,  Anything Goes and just about every movie that plucky Ruby Keeler made back in the ‘30s (there’s a name you don’t hear much any more).

There’s a bit of All About Eve, too. To wit: Our heroine meets and falls for a sailor-slash-songwriter named Dick, and their budding romance is tempest-tossed by hotheaded stage star Mona Kent.

Will Ruby go from chorus girl to A-lister? Will Dick’s show become a hit? Will Mona get what’s coming to her? Will that battleship handily docked in the harbor save the day? (hey, no spoilers here).

Songs include “The Sailor of My Dreams,” “Good Times Are Here to Stay,” “The Beguine,” “There’s Something About You” and “Choo-Choo Honeymoon.”

Bernadette Peters first rose to stardom as the original Ruby in 1966; the show has been revived numerous times over the decades, most recently in 2015.

The freeFall production is directed by Eric Davis, with musical direction by Michael Raabe. The choreography is by Kristie Kerwin, who was in the cast of that 2015 Broadway revival.

The cast includes Kyra Smith (Ruby), Alex Jorth (Dick), Kristina Huegel (Mona), plus Ephie Aardema as Jane, Erick Ariel Sureda as Lucky, and Tyler Fish as Broadway producer Hennesey and Captain Courageous. Everyone sings; everyone dances. It’s that sort of show.

The final preview is at 2 p.m. today; opening performance is at 7 p.m.

Dames at Sea will run through Nov. 21. Tickets are available here.

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