A long-gestating revival of Dames At Sea, a beloved off-Broadway musical from 1968, has booked the Helen Hayes Theatre for a fall opening. It’s the first show at Broadway’s smallest house since being purchased by Second Stage, the nonprofit company that is fundraising for extensive renovations before opening its own shows in its Broadway flagship-to-be.
The show, a love letter to the Depression-era musicals of Busby Berkeley, launched the career of Bernadette Peters when it opened at a tiny off-off-Broadway theater before moving to a long run at the Theatre De Lys (now the Lucille Lortel) in Greenwich Village. With a book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, and music by Jim Wise, it covers every touchstone of the pre-WWII period, from sailors on leave to the unknown ingenue who taps her way to Broadway stardom.
The revival, marking the show’s Broadway debut, is slated to begin previews on September 24, with opening night on October 22 at the W. 44th Street theater. Randy Skinner (42nd Street, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas), a three-time Tony Award nominee, will direct and choreograph, with music supervision and vocal & dance arrangements by Rob Berman (White Christmas, Finian’s Rainbow). The design team includes sets by Anna Louizos, costumes by David C. Woolard, lighting by Ken Billington and sound by Scott Lehrer. Casting and other details will be announced later.
The producers are Infinity Theatre Company (Anna Roberts Ostroff & Alan Ostroff) and Perry Street Theatricals (Martin Platt & David Elliott). Infinity earlier announced plans to bring the show to Broadway in 2014. But with most houses double- and triple-booked, and money tight for a small-scale show with only six performers and probably no star attached, it’s not surprising that the producers had to cool their heels waiting for an appropriate theater to open up. The Hayes was purchased this spring by Second Stage for nearly $25 million. The 600-seat seat theater has been home to several long-running shows, including, most recently, Rock Of Ages.