'Dames at Sea' Sinks on Broadway

Dames at Sea Logo - H 2015
Courtesy of Polk & Co.

Dames at Sea Logo - H 2015

After struggling at the box office since its fall opening, the six-person pastiche of escapist Depression-era movie musicals will close Jan. 3.

To the life rafts!

After nine weeks of struggling at the box office, the Broadway production of 1930s movie musical pastiche Dames at Sea has set a closing date of Jan. 3, ending a brief run of 32 previews and 85 regular performances.

While the small-scale show's frothy pleasures and exuberant tap-dancing drew admirers, reviews generally were mixed, with grosses exceeding $250,000 only once during its nine weeks on the boards.

Directed and choreographed by Randy Skinner, the show began previews at the Helen Hayes Theatre on Sept. 24 and officially opened Oct. 22. Its early exit is expected to make way for producer Scott Rudin to confirm his spring plans to transfer the Stephen Karam play The Humans, which previously was revealed in The Hollywood Reporter.

Written by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, with a score by Jim Wise, Dames at Sea was first produced at a tiny Greenwich Village performance space in 1966, moving two years later to a successful off-Broadway run, during which it helped launch the career of original star Bernadette Peters.

Many theater pundits questioned the wisdom of mounting a show designed as a minimalist homage to maximalist movie-musical extravaganzas — with a cast of just six — in the unforgiving commercial climate of Broadway, particularly when more lavish valentines to vintage musicals have been so prolific, many of them with classic scores by the likes of Cole Porter and the Gershwins.

Despite the disappointing Broadway run, lead producer Anna Roberts Ostroff of Infinity Theatre Company has announced plans for a national tour to begin in fall 2017. A launch city and full schedule are to be announced.