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Damn Yankees
a Musical
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by Jerry Ross, Richard Adler, George Abbott, and Douglas Wallop

COMPANY : Theatre Buford
VENUE : Sylvia Beard Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 5232

SHOWING : April 12, 2018 - April 29, 2018

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Based on the novel, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant by Douglass Wallop, Damn Yankees the Broadway mega-hit and winner of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, hits it out of the park! The winning score by Adler and Ross and a devilish book by George Abbot have made this sporty musical comedy a true American classic.

Middle-aged baseball fanatic Joe Boyd, trades his soul to the Devil, also known as Mr. Applegate, for a chance to lead his favorite team to victory in the pennant race against the New York Yankees. As young baseball sensation, Joe Hardy, he transforms the hapless Washington Senators into a winning team, only to realize the true worth of the life that he’s left behind. Joe ultimately outsmarts Applegate, returns to his former self and shepherds the Senators to the World Series.

Light, fast-paced and devilishly clever, Damn Yankees is a homerun hit, featuring all-American subject matter and an irreverent sense of humor. The perfect choice for a high school’s spring musical or community theatre production, Damn Yankees is a wicked, romantic comedy, sure to please.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Julie Skrzypek
Choreographer Kari Twyman
Music Director Nick Silvestri
Ensemble Sterling Baker-McClarey
Gloria Maggie Birgel
Ensemble Corey Bryant
Joe Hardy Blake Burgess
Meg Erin Burnett
Ensemble Anthony Campbell
Ensemble Jaymyria Etienne
Ensemble Elliott Folds
Ensemble Robert Lee Hindsman
Ensemble Margaret Holtkamp
Lola Asia Howard
Ensemble Leah Keelan
Applegate Chris Mayer
Joe Boyd Brandon Partrick
Ensemble Hayden Rowe
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REVIEWS

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Washington Senators Win the Pennant!
by playgoer
Monday, April 30, 2018
3.5
"Damn Yankees," the tuneful musical about the devil and a baseball player, always entertains. Theatre Buford’s production is no exception, although its quality is no match for the Gypsy Theatre productions that previously graced the stage of the Sylvia Beard Theater in Buford.

Karl Dickey’s set design uses a bleacher-like set-up as the background for the entire show, complete with painted advertisements on the walls and a row of stadium-like lights up top, with a big "W" logo for the Washington Senators dominating the upmost playing level. A stairway center and doorways on either side of it allow the stage to represent additional settings, as indicated by rolling flats that represent the walls of the Boyd living room on one side and lockers of the Senators on the other side. It’s visually busy and generally looks cluttered.

Ben Rawson’s lighting design delineates the different playing spaces adequately for group scenes, but has a tendency to over-use spotlights that don’t quite illuminate the faces of individuals, especially in smaller musical moments. John Lafontaine’s sound design has problems too, primarily in that it amplifies the sour string and brass notes emanating from Nick Silvestri’s six-piece band. The balance between band and voices is pretty good, but of the soloists only Erin Burnett as Meg Boyd comes across as being in fine voice throughout. I have seen many of the other cast members in previous productions in which their voices soared, but here their solo voices occasionally seem strained. Group numbers are more impressive. It’s impossible for me to tell if the sound design could have improved the sound of solo voices, if Mr. Silvestri fell down a bit on his job, or if people were cast in roles whose vocal requirements don’t match their strengths.

Costumes, designed by Derrick Vanmeter, and choreography, by Kari Twyman, are far more impressive and delightful than the other technical elements. Cody Russell’s props are fine too. Director Julie Skrzypek keeps the action moving briskly and seems to have encouraged her actors to have fun in their roles, as evidenced by the frequent ad libs and comic moments cast members seem to have come up with on their own.

This sense of fun harms the story of "Damn Yankees" in one specific way. Middle-aged couple Joe Boyd (Brandon Partrick) and his wife Meg (Ms. Burnett) are at the heart of the story, parting at the start and reuniting at the end. Both roles are cast far too young, and the two actors are double-cast as the decrepitly aged Mr. and Mrs. Welch, whose roles are played strictly for laughs. The poignancy of the Boyd’s relationship evaporates when steeped in the buffoonish clowning of Mr. Partrick and Ms. Burnett in their secondary roles.

The other major roles are nicely played by a trio of talented actors. Blake Burgess makes for a buff, sincere Joe Hardy. Asia Howard adds sizzle and depth as temptress Lola, impressing with her dancing as well as her acting. Chris Mayers plays Mephistopholean Mr. Applegate with wry humor, great timing, and terrific delivery. At scene ends, his finger snaps to extinguish the lights never fail to bring a smile. His descent into Hell at the end of the show is nicely staged too.

Supporting players Maggie Birgel, as an investigative sports reporter, and Stuart Schleuse, as the ball team manager, play their roles believably, with Ms. Birgel’s energy coming across the footlights undimmed. The ensemble also impress. Margaret Holtkamp and Leah Keelan have small recurring roles as Doris Miller and Sister, but also join Jaymyria Etienne in populating the female ensemble parts. The other male parts, notably the baseball team, are filled by the male ensemble (sturdy Hayden Rowe, boyish Elliot Folds, athletic Sterling Baker-McClary, spunky Anthony Campbell, sweet-voiced Corey Bryant, and fun-loving Robert Hindsman). Everyone is given a chance to shine, with several of the ensemble portraying children near the start of act two.

Theatre Buford’s production of "Damn Yankees" seems to aim for brash enjoyment, sometimes as much for the actors as for the audience. It seems to be of two minds -- telling the tender story at its center and layering on comedy with little relation to the main story. As such, it doesn’t come across as a cohesive evening of entertainment. There are lots of things to like about this production, but too many deficiencies to make it a sterling example of what theatre in Buford can be. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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