By Fran Syverson
How long has it been since you spent an evening watching—and listening to—a group of talented tap dancers? Too long? Then don’t miss the summertime performance of “Dames at Sea” at the Sierra Madre Playhouse. It’s full of tunes that keep the audience toe-tapping right along with the actors.
The story line is oh-so-thin, so predictable that it’s actually part of the fun. Country girl seeks Broadway stardom, boy meets girl, troupe loses stage on opening night, sailors come up with a brilliant idea, ingénue plays up to captain, battleship deck doubles as stage, and country girl finds both stardom and romance. A bit of repartee tells the story as it leads into song after song, each accompanied by brilliant tap dancing.
Selecting the cast took a special touch, says Producer and Artistic Director Christian Lebano. Each actor had to be able to sing and dance, as well as act. The six people chosen fit the bill perfectly. Ruby, from Idaho, is played by Katie Franqueira. Joan and Mona are portrayed by Marissa Mayer and Jennifer Knox, respectively. Ruben Bravo and Aaron Shaw are the “heroes,” Lucky and Dick. Chuck McLane doubles as a distraught Hennessey and the Captain of the ship.
It really does “take a village” to offer a performance such as “Dames at Sea.” While every person’s part is worthy of note, we mention a few here. Joshua Finkel directs a mainstage performance for the first time at the Playhouse.
Choreography is a most essential part of a show which is almost totally dancing. Jeffrey Scott Parsons handled this to perfection. Critical, also, is that of musical director. Sean Paxton as pianist returns to the Playhouse where he has appeared in this role often. The many clever and beautiful costumes were designed by Shon LeBlanc.
Stage settings at the Playhouse never cease to amaze. The battleship deck in the second act is an eye-popping case in point. Credit Jeff G. Rack for it.
This fun, flirtatious stage play first set sail off-Broadway in 1938. Like many musicals of the Depression era, it seemed to provide optimism and escape for audiences. Perhaps the same is true today.
Talk-backs are held with actors and others involved in the show immediately after Sunday matinees.
“Dames at Sea” has extended its voyage through Saturday, Aug. 3. It plays Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m., and an added Saturday matinee on Aug. 3.
For reservations or more information phone (626) 355-3418; for online ticketing: sierramadreplayhouse.org. Admission is $45, seniors (65-pluse) $40, youth (to 21) $25. The Playhouse is located at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre.