Repertory Company HS for Theatre Arts, grade 10
That’s right--one of America’s favorite Golden Age musicals is back in a revival at City Center this summer. Damn Yankees follows avid baseball fan Joe Boyd (P.J. Benjamin), who's so focused on his team defeating the Yankees that he trades his soul to the devil for a chance to play the game. City Center was alive and kicking, as the show started off with the grand curtain opening to reveal an orchestra seated in the grandstand of Washington Senators field. This design choice set the tone for the kind of show Damn Yankees turned out to be: fun, electric and loud!
This revival also features an all-star cast, with Sean Hayes of Will and Grace as Applegate, a.k.a. The Devil, and Jane Krakowski from Ally McBeal and 30 Rock as his beautiful assistant, Lola. Once Applegate offers to make Joe the greatest ballplayer ever in return for his soul, we get a newly improved power hitter named Joe Hardy, brilliantly portrayed by Xanadu’s Cheyenne Jackson.
Sean Hayes is a theatrical powerhouse as Applegate, demonstrating hilarious surprises including costume changes, magic tricks and some really cool live piano playing (his accompaniment on "Those Were the Good Old Days" is the show’s highlight by far). Jane Krakowski proves to be a dynamic singer and dancer and has a great connection with both Hayes and Jackson. Jackson is an all-around talent, and look like he stepped right off a baseball card. His voice and acting are impeccable.
The show does have a few technical glitches, which I am sure will be fixed through the run (through July 27). The sets are very simple, complete with baseball field and orchestra present throughout the play. But I would recommend this show to anybody who wants to laugh and see Sean Hayes at his best. It’s also a chance to see Bob Fosse’s original choreography, reconstructed brilliantly by Mary MacLeod and performed with great precision by this new cast. As the song asks: “Who’s Got the Pain?” Definitely not me after seeing this terrific show!
Damn Yankees with music and lyrics by Richard Alder and Jerry Ross and book by George Abbott and Douglas Wallop at City Center. Directed by John Rando. Reproduced Choreography by Mary MacLeod, based on the work of Bob Fosse.
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