Masquers shine where writing fails in Dames at Sea

Griffin Sendek / Staff Writer
The Red Masquers perform a song from Dames at Sea. From left to right: Dick (Christian Poach), Ruby (Audrey Nigh), Hennessy (Jarret Klunk), Lucky (Nathan Freshwater) and dancer Karli Sutton.

Claire Neiberg | Staff Writer


The Duquesne University Red Masquers continued its fall season with the opening of Dames at Sea last week on Nov. 8.

Dames at Sea is an hour-and-45-minute-long musical written by George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, with music composed by Jim Wise. While it is shorter in length, it does not fall short in action, as it is packed with musical numbers from beginning to end.

Going into the theater, I had high expectations for this show, as I love comedic musicals. When I first saw the advertisements, I immediately thought of one of my favorite musicals, Anything Goes! However, when I saw it, my hopes were fulfilled in some aspects but let down in others. The cast was phenomenal, but the actual plotline and aesthetics of the show left a lot to be desired.

The musical takes place on a 1930s cruise ship about to set sail. It is filled with Broadway entertainers, and Mona Kent (Mikayla Gilmer) is the over-dramatic diva and star of the show. Soon before the ship sets sail, Ruby (Audrey Nigh), an aspiring Broadway actress from a small town in Utah, hops on board with a hopeful heart to perform in the show.

She quickly falls in love with Dick (Christian Poach), a sailor who is aspiring to become a songwriter. Another performer on the ship, Joan (Erin Fulton) is in love with Lucky (Nathan Freshwater), another sailor. However, Mona causes trouble along the way which leads to Ruby having to step up and save the day, proving herself a star.

The show was similar to Anything Goes! as it had a similar setting, and both shows embraced comedy from beginning to end. Dames at Sea was classically comedy driven by the performers especially. The two sets of lovers had great chemistry, and all of the actors fully conformed to their roles. Gilmer stayed in character the entire time, and her facial expressions were priceless. Nigh’s tap dancing was also excellent.

However, there was room for advanced steps that would have heightened the numbers, and the choreography as a whole could have been tighter. The set was also bare and minimal — it was hard to tell where the scene was set for the first act. With that being said, the cruise ship was done nicely in the second act. The set did have some fun antics to it, such as a wrecking ball, but was lacking overall.

The show itself ran more as a revue, since it did not really have an enticing plot. The actors did what they could to elevate the show, but as a whole, it was oversimplified to the point it was hard to follow.

Dames at Sea was an entertaining, light-hearted and fun performance to see. However, it did not measure up to The Foreigner. It was much less complex in set design and the plot was not as enticing. With that being said, however, the cast itself was amazing furthermore solidifying the fact that Duquesne is abundant when it comes to student talent.


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