Bernadette Peters made her Broadway debut at age ten in a revival of The Most Happy Fella in 1959 and earned notice for a small part in George M! in 1968. But she made a breakthrough, still only 20 years old, when she starred in Dames at Sea, an Off-Broadway musical that opened on December 20, 1968, and ran an impressive 575 performances. The show was an attempt to write a new version of a '30s movie musical, sort of a cross between 42nd Street and Follow the Fleet, on a tiny stage and using a cast of six. Audiences were charmed, and some of that appeal comes across on the cast album, although this is the sort of show that works better when performed live. On record, it just sounds alternately like a parody or a second-rate score by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, despite the vivacity of the singers. But, especially as the years went by, it was possible to listen to it waiting for Peters to make another appearance with her distinctive voice and winning manner. Decades later, she still put "Raining in My Heart" (not the Buddy Holly song) in her concerts, complete with the umbrella routine that had accompanied it, and her performance of "The Sailor of My Dreams" is equally entertaining. This is not to slight the rest of the cast, particularly the deliberately hammy Tamara Long. But, despite some later productions, Dames at Sea (and particularly its Original Off-Broadway Cast album) came to be remembered as an early effort by Bernadette Peters, just as I Can Get It for You Wholesale was remembered for Barbra Streisand.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann