Buoyed by a ship-shape cast, the Colony Theatre Company’s “Dames at Sea” revival broadsides the 1930s movie musicals of Busby Berkeley with tongue firmly in cheek. It’s no coincidence that the creators of this 1966 lullaby of off-off-Broadway -- George Haimsohn and Robin Miller (book and lyrics) and Jim Wise (music) -- christened their romantic leads Ruby and Dick after “42nd Street” co-stars Keeler and Powell, and that’s only the start of the similarities.
This is a lightweight dinghy at best for those in search of cerebral ballast, but Todd Nielsen's breezy, energetic staging keeps the show afloat with wry self-awareness of its own paper-thin plot, and his six-member cast certainly knows how to work a crowd. With a consistently winning mix of naïveté and polished talent, Tessa Grady’s small-town showbiz wannabe Ruby hops off a bus in the Big Apple with nothing but a pair of tap shoes in her suitcase and a prayer in her heart, and…well, you know the rest.
Heather Ayers camps it up with panache as Ruby’s nemesis, self-centered stage diva Mona Kent (“The Lady Macbeth of 42nd Street”), while Shanon Mari Mills exudes canny street smarts as Joan, the jaded chorus girl who takes Ruby under her wing.