Dames At Sea
Book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller
Music by Jim Wise
off-Broadway at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre December 20, 1968. (575 perfs)
Duchess Theatre, London - 27 August, 1969 (127 perfs)
New York salutes Hollywood in this affectionate spoof of the Busby Berkeley-Harry Warren an Al Dubin-Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler-style film musical of the 30s. The setting is the deck of a battleship where Ruby, the talented tap-dancer from the sticks climbs aboard a youngster and disembarks a star! The show is being floated because its songwriter, Dick happens to be a sailor and is able, therefore, to offer an alternative venue when under pressure from leading lady Mona. Unfortunately life on the ocean wave doesn't quite agree with Mona so Ruby takes over and she and Dick set off on a long voyage together.
As a pastiche of the 1930s musicals the show's atmosphere and songs reflect a good-natured send-up of the real thing.
After a brief musical introduction the curtain rises on the dress rehearsal of a Broadway show, Dames At Sea. Hardboiled star Mona Kent is going through her opening number. Enter Ruby, fresh off the bus from Utah and looking for a part in a Broadway show. She has left her suitcase on the bus and hasn't eaten for three days. Hennessey, the show's harassed manager - he has just produced 12 flops in a row - is turning her down when big-hearted show girl Joan informs him that one of the chorus eloped with a millionaire that morning. He gives Ruby the job.
Overcome with the excitement and lack of food, Ruby faints - right into the arms of Dick, a handsome sailor who has found her suitcase, containing her tap shoes, and followed her. Ruby and Dick fall instantly in love. Dick, an aspiring songwriter, composes a love song for Ruby right then and there. Kindly Joan takes Ruby off for a meal. The glamorous Mona,wanting to get her hands on Dick for both his music and his looks, starts flirting with him - not for nothing is she known as 'the Lady Macbeth of 42nd Street'. Ambitious Dick, all too eagerly gives her one of his songs to sing.
Dick's fellow sailor, Lucky, arrives. He turns out
to be a former boyfriend of Joan and greets her in astonishment. Finding
their earlier love rekindling, they imagine their honeymoon. To express
her love for
Dick, Ruby writes a letter to President Roosevelt, explaining just how much she loves the American navy in general and Dick in particular. Hennessey confounds the company when he rushes in with the news that the theatre has been sold and is scheduled for demolition. With opening night only hours away, the sturdy troopers sing as they pack up their belongings and the bulldozers move in.
Dick and Lucky hit on a brilliant idea to save the show: they will persuade their commander, Captain Courageous, to allow the show to open on the deck of their battleship, which is anchored in the nearby docks. Dames At Sea will be staged at sea! Favouring a subtle approach, the two sailor boys start by lamenting the lack of girls on board ship. But their efforts are to no avail. It is Mona who vamps Captain Courageous into capitulating and allowing them to put on the show.
Planning her entrances, Mona is astounded to see that the Captain is none other than 'Kewpie Doll', a former beau. She reminds him of their first meeting in Pensacola, Florida, when she, the as-yet-undiscovered singing waitress, Grace Topolovsky from Flatbush, served him chilli-con-carne. Passion flares anew as they recall that fateful night when she gave her all under the tropic stars. Dick arrives as the Captain leaves. Ever on the lookout for more songs, Mona persuades Dick to kiss her. Just at that moment, Ruby enters and sees everything. Plunged into the blackest despair, she pours out her feelings.
During last-minute rehearsals, the excitement at fever pitch, Mona becomes seasick and has to retire to the Captain's cabin. Hennessey is devastated. Who could possibly replace the star at such short notice? All turn to Ruby: "It's a chance in a million, but it might just work." The plucky girl goes on and wows the audience. After the show, Dick showers her with congratulations and they kiss and make up. There is nothing else to do but to plan the wedding. Joan and Lucky, and Mona and Captain Courageous refuse to be left out. The show ends with the three pairs deciding that simplicity should be the keynote amid cheers and a 21-gun salute.
- The Beguine - Mona & the Captain
- Broadway Baby - Dick
- Choo-Choo Honeymoon - Joan & Lucky
- Dames At Sea - Company
- The Echo Waltz - Mona, Joan, Ruby & Company
- Good Times Are Here To Stay - Joan & Company
- It's You - Dick & Ruby
- Let's Have A Simple Wedding - Company
- Raining In My Heart - Ruby & Chorus
- The Sailor of My Dreams - Ruby
- Singapore Sue - Lucky & Company
- Star Tar - Ruby and Company
- That Mister Of Mine - Mona & Chorus
- There's Something About You - Dick & Ruby
- Wall Street - Mona
Original 1989 Cast Recording - CDTER 1169 (5 015062 116922)