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Damn Yankees

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop (book); Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (songs)

COMPANY : New London Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Hello Again Variety Mall [WEBSITE]
ID# 4749

SHOWING : July 10, 2015 - July 26, 2015

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

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 he’s left behind. Joe ultimately outsmarts Applegate, returns to his former self, and shepherds the Senators to the World Series.


CAST & CREW LIST
Lola Rebecca Carrico
Mrs. Welch Nikki Greenfield
Joe Hardy Brandon Smith
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REVIEWS

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Out of the Ballpark
by playgoer
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
2.0
Preface:
What would this site be without an occasional snarky review? The following review gives snark full rein. Don’t read it if you’ll be offended. That said, no one involved in this production should be ashamed of their efforts, particularly if their goal was to have a good time putting on a show and they had fun rehearsing and performing. For friends and relatives of the cast, it gives every opportunity to say "hey, there’s so-and-so onstage doing something I didn’t know they could do, and doing it not half bad at that." It’s just a big step from "not half bad" to "good," and the elements brought together by the director haven’t been whipped into that shape.

The review:
Some great shows just hit it out of the ballpark, as the saying goes. Some adequate shows are in the ballpark, so to speak. Others, like New London Theatre’s "Damn Yankees," are barely in the vicinity of the ballpark. For a baseball-themed show, that’s a fatal flaw.

It’s not just that the performances are overwhelmingly amateur on the whole; so is the set, and so is the musical accompaniment. A number of the cast seem to put their all into their performances, but there either isn’t a lot to give or less-than-optimal casting prevents them from making the intended impact. Lackluster direction and laugh- or cringe-inspiring choreography don’t help. It’s pretty much a miss on all marks.

There are two sparkling exceptions: Brandon Smith as Joe Hardy and Rebecca Carrico as Lola. Luckily, these are the two leads; unluckily, they make their entrances well into the first act. Mr. Smith brings youthful sincerity to his role; Ms. Carrico brings spark and spunk to hers. They have a nice chemistry together. Their voices are consistently pleasing too, which can’t be said of all cast members. They are tasked with carrying the entire show, but the burden of two people carrying a cast of twenty is just too much to bear.

This production makes the unusual choice of casting Meg and Joe Boyd, along with Joe’s young alter ego Joe Hardy, as black performers. This works remarkably well, except for one line of dialogue, where the word "boy" takes on the characteristics of a racial slur. Throwing that into the middle of a light-hearted musical is yet one more misstep among many.

I do applaud one clever blocking choice -- having a character with a portable radio lean on the stage left speaker, so the sound nearly seems to be emanating from the radio itself. Sound and lighting, though perhaps hampered by a lack of sophisticated equipment, work well, so it’s possible to see and hear what one generally would wish neither to see nor to hear.
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