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“Dames at Sea” Is Another Big Hit for HSN and TR

Broadway's Todd Michel Smith and Raleigh actress Emily Gardenhire will star as Dick and Ruby in "Dames at Sea" on July 5-8 and 11-15 in the Kennedy Theatre (photo by Lauren Kennedy)

Broadway’s Todd Michel Smith and Raleigh actress Emily Gardenhire will star as Dick and Ruby in “Dames at Sea” on July 5-8 and 11-15 in the Kennedy Theatre (photo by Lauren Kennedy)

The 1966 tap musical, Dames at Sea, with catchy tunes by composer Jim Wise and sassy book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, is an affectionate spoof of the visually dazzling but dramatically anemic 1930s Hollywood movie musicals in which spectacular production numbers frequently overshadowed the boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl-back paint-by-numbers plots.

Despite some opening-night oopses, the current Hot Summer Nights and Theatre Raleigh production of Dames at Sea quickly built up a full head of steam, and proved immensely popular with HSN and TR patrons, who rewarded the effervescent cast with a lengthy standing ovation at the final curtain.

Broadway’s Todd Michel Smith (in slickly understated performance, a la Gene Kelly) and Raleigh’s Emily Gardenhire are the dynamic duo at the heart of this rousing rendition of Dames at Sea. They demonstrate great chemistry, strong singing voices, light feet, and a fine flair for comedy as they portray Dick the sailor-songwriter and Ruby the bubbly newcomer to the chorus who quickly becomes the apple of his eye.

Cincinnati, OH actress Kate McMillan is a scene-stealer as she hilariously channels her inner diva to portray temperamental (and now fading) Broadway star Mona Kent as a hopelessly self-centered wicked witch of the Great White Way. And HSN and TR associate artistic director Adam Twiss is terrific as Mona’s once and future fling, U.S. Navy battleship Captain “Cupie Pie” Courageous.

Elon, NC actress Sara Spadacene is a pip as a wisecracking chorine named Joan, and Greenville, NC actor Jim Dadosky is long and lanky and always amusing as Joan’s sailor boyfriend Lucky.

HSN and TR guest director and choreographer Tito Hernandez sets a brisk tempo and stages each scene with style and wit, and musical director Julie Bradley and the Dames at Sea orchestra provide invigorating accompaniment. Chris Bernier’s sets, Denise Schumaker’s costume, and Patricia DelSordo’s period wigs also deserve kudos for helping Dames at Sea look as good as it sounds. Bravo!

SECOND OPINION: July 2nd and July 5th Raleigh, NC BWW News Desk previews: and (Note: To read Triangle Arts & Entertainment’s online version of Triangle Theater Review’s July 4th review by Robert W. McDowell, click

Hot Summer Nights and Theatre Raleigh present DAMES AT SEA at 3 p.m. July 8, 8 p.m. July 11-13, 2 and 8 p.m. July 14, and 3 p.m. July 15 in the K.D. & Sara Lynn Kennedy Theatre in back of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $24 ($20 students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 866-811-4111 or

INFORMATION: 919-480-5166 or






The Musical (background): (Wikipedia) and (fan page maintained by Robert Patrick).

The Script: (Google Books).

Jim Wise: (Wikipedia).

George Haimsohn: (

Robin Miller: (

Tito Hernandez: (North Carolina Theatre Conservatory).

Todd Michel Smith: (


Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This review is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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