The high-energy retro musical Dames At Sea, which seemed to founder in its own flop sweat since opening in October to tepid reviews, will close on January 3 after a disappointing run of 85 performances and 32 previews at the Helen Hayes Theatre. The producers hope to launch a national tour beginning in fall 2016.
The closing is likely to settle the question of where Stephen Karam’s The Humans will land in the spring, since opening to rave reviews and announcing a move under Scott Rudin’s banner. That sets up an interesting interplay between two Broadway nonprofits: The Humans was commissioned and produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company and the commercial transfer goes to the Hayes, which recently came under the ownership of Second Stage, which plans to make the house its Broadway flagship after renovations.
Dames At Sea — book and lyrics by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, music by Jim Wise — is a goofy pastiche musical recalling the Depression-era shows of the ’30s, and while Randy Skinner’s production had OK production values and a talented cast, it nevertheless lacked the inspired quality that sends an audience out needing to spread the good word. The minimalist show, in Broadway’s smallest house and with a cast of just six, also competed with plenty of eye-popping competition up the street and around the corner.
“The original production of Dames At Sea started off-off-Broadway on the smallest stage imaginable, with a great book and score and a huge heart,” said producer Anna Roberts Ostroff. “We are so proud that the current production, which started at Infinity Theatre Company, went on to wow critics and is thrilling audiences in the Broadway premiere of this beloved musical.”
Careful booking in the right out-of-town venues should help the show’s investors recoup at least some of their losses.