“Dames at Sea” taps into fun at IU Summer Theatre

May 18, 2017

Bloomington, IND – Indiana University Department of Theatre, Drama, and Contemporary Dance will begin the 2017 Summer Theatre season with a production of Dames at Sea, a 1966 musical with book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller and  music by Jim Wise that pays loving homage to the extravagant, spectacle-driven movie-musicals of the 1930s.

This glitzy comedy, laden with catchy show-tunes and elaborate tap-dance numbers, tells the story of a young girl from Utah arriving in New York City with hopes of becoming a Broadway star. The musical originally premiered Off-Off-Broadway in 1966, with newcomer Bernadette Peters as the leading lady. Dames at Sea ironically didn’t make it to Broadway itself until 50 years after it was written, when it opened at the Helen Hayes theatre in 2015 and garnered acclaim (and a Tony nomination) for its choreography.

Taking the reigns on the production as both director and choreographer is Kenneth L. Roberson, who previously directed the IU productions of Into the Woods, Sweet Charity, and The Drowsy Chaperone. “These musicals from the thirties, like the Gold Diggers of 1933 and 42nd Street, were Depression-era movies. They released people from what was going on in the world,” said Roberson. “And with our political climate now, it’s relevant.”

Dames at Sea is a delightful pastiche of the 1930s Busby Berkeley movies,” said Terry LaBolt,  professor of practice in the BFA Musical Theatre program, and musical director for the production.

The creative team also includes Kevin Nelson (Scenic Designer), Matthew Wofford (Lighting Designer), and faculty costume designer and head of the Department’s Design and Technology area, Linda Pisano. Pisano’s designs for theatre and dance have won numerous awards across the globe. She will be traveling to Taiwan in July to compete as a finalist in the 2017 World Stage Design Quadrennial competition.

The small yet mighty cast of the production is comprised entirely of Musical Theatre BFA undergraduates. Four of the six cast members, Broderick Balsley, Casey Lamont, Henry Miller, and Lisa Podulka, are rising sophomores. Though they may be young, don’t underestimate their considerable theatrical experience and skill. “What helped to solidify the cast was the tap dancing,” said Roberson. “The better the auditioners tap, the higher the stakes. It’s a production where everyone has to do everything. You can’t hide behind the sweetness of the show.”

IU Summer Theatre’s production of Dames at Sea hearkens back to an era of film where conflicts could be resolved by putting on a pair of shoes and tapping your troubles away.

Dames at Sea, and all of this summer’s productions, will be presented in the round in IU’s Wells-Metz Theatre.

WHAT: IU Summer Theatre Presents Dames at Sea

WHEN: June 2, 3, 6-10, 13-17 at 7:30pm and June 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18 at 2:00pm

WHERE: Wells-Metz Theatre, Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

TICKETS: Regular admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students. 812.855.1103 or theatre.indiana.edu.

For more information and interview requests, please email Amy Osajima at aosajima@indiana.edu.