The HVCC Theater Club will be performing the musical Dames at Sea in the Maureen Stapleton Theater between April 26 and May 5. The show is free for HVCC students, $3 for faculty and staff, and $6 for general admission. Dames at Sea will be the first musical to ever be put on by HVCC students. The plot revolves around a group of dancers, whose theater gets shut down before a show, forcing them to move their show’s performance to a ship. “They are literally dames at sea….It’s very goofy but at the same time there are some really cute, heartfelt numbers, and I’m very, very proud of how it’s all come together in such a short amount of time,” said Calley Parks, Assistant Director and Theater Arts senior.
There will be a total of seven performances of the show. It will be performed at 8 p.m. every night from April 26 to April 28, and again from May 3 to May 5. On Sunday, April 29, the performance will be at 2 p.m. The last of these performances will be done by the understudies. Dames at Sea was originally written as an off-Broadway show in the ‘60s, based on the economic collapse of the ‘20s. Parks said that it is now especially relevant in context of the Occupy Wall Street movement, to which the directors have decided to make a connection. “We’ve actually been able to very gracefully tie in all of that Wall Street stuff, so a lot of the props from our production of Dames at Sea, we have Occupy Wall Street signs and one of our set pieces is actually a tent, so it’s something that’s been a lot of fun and it’s still a very bright, happy show,” Parks said.
The musical numbers in the show range from upbeat to wholehearted and, according to Parks, are very impressive for an off-Broadway show. “The music is just great, because you think like a small, off-Broadway production isn’t going to be as elaborate as some of the bigger musicals, the more well-known musicals, [but] it’s really quite a show.” Casting for the show was done at the beginning of the semester in a series of auditions, and the eleven cast members have been rehearsing ever since. During rehearsals, they have had to face the unique challenges of putting on a musical performance. “Between the dance and the singing and all the props, and all the set changes, and all of the light changes, it’s crazy, so it’s a completely different animal than what we’ve been used to doing…. It was a little weird at first, taking the acting and staging elements and putting them together with the musical score and…the dance,” said Parks. She explained that, at first, some rehearsals consisted entirely of singing, others were only of dancing, and still others were purely acting rehearsals. Since then, the cast have been working to coordinate all the elements of the show.
Parks said, “We’ve been dancing more than anything else…three-quarters of the cast have actually taught themselves how to tap dance so they could do this show, which is… it’s a very difficult kind of dance to do, it’s hard to choreograph. And these guys, they dance like they’ve been doing it for years now.” In addition to the cast members, the rest of the crew has also been working hard to bring the musical together. “Stage management has been split up into a few different people just because it’s such a massive undertaking of coordinating the tech and everything. It’s been such a relief for me to have such amazing, supportive stage managers,” said Parks.
Preparation for the show has, according to Parks, really bonded together all the cast and crew. “We’ve all become friends, so even if people…didn’t hang out with the theater crowd before, they definitely do now because we’ve all become so close. [Theater] makes a lot of really great relationships for people.”
Parks is expecting a very positive response to Dames at Sea, especially due to its status as HVCC’s first ever musical. She said, “It’s definitely big, it’s maybe a little bit bigger than we had anticipated, but it’s been a wonderful learning experience and I hope it’s the first of many, many musicals.” For information on the Theater Club’s performance of Dames at Sea, contact show director, David Birch, or assistant director, Calley Parks.