31 Days of Arkansas Rep: 1979’s DAMES AT SEA

Guy Couch kicks up his heels while swabbing the deck in DAMES AT SEA.

Take every showbiz cliche imaginable, mix it with a score that is a pastiche of Warner Bros. 1930s musicals, and throw in a bit of World War II nostalgia – you get DAMES AT SEA.  With a cast of six, it was a perfect selection for the Arkansas Rep in the autumn of 1979.

Directed by Cliff Fannin Baker, it featured Jeannie LeMay, Robert Boles, Phyllis Blumenfeld, Guy Couch, and Craig Fuller in the cast.  Also in the cast, as the newest full-time member of the Arkansas Rep company was a young actress/chanteuse named Sharon Douglas. Over the next decade or so she would become closely identified with the Rep.

Multi-talented Jean Lind (who often acted in Rep productions) played the keyboard and served as musical director leading a pit band of three other musicians.

Dames at Sea kicked off the 1979-1980 season.  It ran from September 27 to October 14.  That year the Rep also celebrated ownership of its building. Because of grants it had received, it was able to accelerate the financing for the purchase of the building. As an Arkansas Gazette article pointed out, because of the grant they were able to keep tickets to $5 instead of charging $14.80 for tickets to the shows. (The latter would be the equivalent of $49.97 in 2018 .)

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