Summer theater kicks off this week

By Joel Pierson H-T Theater columnist
May 28, 2017

Julia Paige Thorne as “Mona” in IUST’s opening production of “Dames at Sea”

Ahh, the Indiana University summer theater season is here. Back in the day, (said Grandpa), plays were held in the Brown County Playhouse. It cost tuppence to get in, and your program was hand scribed by monks. OK, I may be exaggerating a bit, but that’s how I remember it. Time marches on, and today’s summer plays are presented closer to home, in the Wells-Metz Theatre. Given these modern surroundings, it’s a tiny bit ironic that the first show of the season is a 1966 musical set in the early 1930s. But hey, at least it’s a lot of fun.

The show is “Dames at Sea,” a tribute to the lavish movie musicals of the ’30s. It’s the story of Ruby, fresh off the bus in New York after leaving her home in Utah. Determined to live the life of a Broadway star, she quickly meets a sailor who also has dreams of being a songwriter — and she soon realizes she has feelings for him. In classic musical comedy fashion, every new character we meet further entangles Ruby in romance and intrigue, on her path to fame and success.

Directing and choreographing the production is Kenneth L. Roberson, who shared, “These musicals from the ’30s, like ‘The Gold Diggers of 1933’ and ‘42nd Street,’ were Depression-era movies. They released people from what was going on in the world, and with our political climate now, it’s relevant.”

Professor Terry LaBolt of the BFA Musical Theatre program, the musical director for this show, added, “‘Dames at Sea’ is a delightful pastiche of the 1930s Busby Berkeley movies.”

The cast of six works hard to tell their story through song and dance — especially dance. “What helped to solidify the cast was the tap dancing,” Roberson said. “It’s a production where everyone has to do everything. You can’t hide behind the sweetness of the show.”

Contact Joel by sending an email to with “Pierson” in the subject line.

If you go

IU Summer Theater

WHAT: “Dames at Sea” by George Haimsohn, Robin Miller and Jim Wise

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. June 2, 3, 6-10, 13-17; 2 p.m. June 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18

WHERE: Wells-Metz Theatre, 275 N. Jordan Ave., Bloomington

TICKETS: $10-$20. Call 812-855-1103 or visit

Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. For more Bloomington arts news, visit

About IU Theatre Department

Welcome to the 7th & Jordan blog. This blog is a peek behind the curtain at the productions and people at Indiana University's Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance.
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