‘Dames at Sea’ brings fun to Price stage

March 7, 2011

The LaGrange College Theatre Arts Department is closing its season with a shot of pure entertainment when it presents the musical “Dames at Sea” at Price Theater, opening March 10.

“Set in a 42nd Street theater in the early 1030s, this little tap show with a huge heart celebrates every starry-eyed ‘kid’ who has ever set their dancing-singing-acting sights on Broadway,” said Kim Barber Knoll, Chair of the Theatre Arts Department. “It parodies the style and humor of the outrageous Busby Berkeley movie musicals with a cast of only seven.”

For some of the actors, learning to tap dance was a bit daunting.

“I haven’t tapped since I was a small child, so it was a little scary,” said senior Anna Carroll Simms, who plays the lead role of Ruby. “But we had a tap class in the fall, and that was a huge help.”

Sophomore Austin Burns said he’s never worn a pair of tap shoes.

“I can’t dance,” he said with a grin, as his cast mates laughed. “But I have a good time trying.”

For siblings Lauren and Joseph Strickland, though, the show has been an opportunity to return to something they’ve been doing since childhood.

“I’ve been tapping since I was 8 years old,” said Joseph, a sophomore. “I haven’t had a chance to do it for a while, so it’s so much fun to put my tap shoes back on.”

Lauren, a junior, said she’s been dancing for 14 years.

“Tap was always my favorite, though,” she said. “It’s been great to come back to it for this show.”

Knoll said this production features the work of a guest scenic designer and scenic artist from Boston.
“James Tolman has been in residence, working with our students for two weeks,” she said. “He designed scenery for ‘Lysistrata,’ ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Hay Fever’ and was our scenic painter for ‘She Loves Me.’ We’re so lucky to have him with us for this show.”

Nancy Gell, a LaGrange dancer and choreographer, designed six of the fifteen musical numbers. Student Fleming Gardner was her tap choreography assistant.

“Nancy staged the tap finale,” Knoll said. “She and Fleming really captured the cast-of-thousands quality with this number which is the humor of the show, given that the cast is so small.”

For some of the cast, “Dames at Sea” is only the latest in a long line of shows they’ve done together. Lauren and Joseph Strickland have been performing with each other since they were in elementary school. Anna Carroll and D.J. Grooms go back even further.

“Anna Carroll and I have been in plays together in our hometown of Thomasville since we were 4,” said D.J., who plays the male lead, Dick.

Laura Hennesy, who has the role of the wise-cracking chorus girl Joan, said the charm of the show is that every cast member has a chance to shine.

“Everybody has their day in the sun,” she said. “All of the fun is spread out.”

More than anything, “Dames At Sea” is a family-friendly show filled with great music, dance and humor.

“Be prepared to laugh – a lot,” Lauren.

“Dames at Sea” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. March 10-12 and March 17-19, with a 2:30 p.m. show on March 13. Ticket prices at $10 for adults, $7 for senior citizens and $5 for non-LaGrange College students. To make reservations, call the Price Theater box office at (706) 880-8080.

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