BWW Review: DAMN YANKEES a Hit Out of The Park
Baseball players doing pirouettes is not a typical pregame warm-up many major leaguers have, but that certainly doesn't stop the cast of Pittsburgh CLO's Damn Yankees from dancing their shoes off from left field to right, or rather, stage left to right. With bats in hand and led by a headstrong female reporter, the men of the Washington Senators deliver a power-packed, energized dance routine in "Shoeless Joe" that reflects the charisma and passion displayed throughout the entire show.
Damn Yankees, the Tony-winning 1955 musical based on the Douglass Wallop novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, begs a question we have all come across in our lives: What are we willing to do to get what we want? Some, like the middle-aged Senators fanatic Joe Boyd, are willing to sell their souls to The Devil. From that point, Joe Boyd becomes Joe Hardy, a strapping young ball player who leads the Senators on their quest for the pennant.
Of course, any pact with The Devil is not that simple, though a simple handshake was the only notarizing the pact needed. It's hard not to succumb to The Devil, Mr. Applegate, in this show. Playing the role, John Bolton is comical and mesmerizing with his singing, talking, and stage presence - a rare triple play. It makes me wonder if for his audition, Mr. Bolton was simply asked to laugh in a maniacal manner because he does a devilishly delightful job.
Apparently though, Mr. Applegate has to do most things the hard way. Enter Lola, played by Sarrah Strimel. Lola is a saucy seductress who wows most men off their feet-typically sending them off their feet for good-but struggles with the resolute Joe Hardy. It's also quite difficult to see how Joe is able to hold it together because Ms. Strimel's ironically angelic voice and spicy dancing are transcendental.
"Two Lost Souls" features both of these aspects, along with Joe Hardy and the ensemble. Joe Hardy, played by John Riddle, mumbles through this song and others with his soft and smooth voice. What he lacks in diction he makes up for in dance, because this five-minute or so dance number is choreographed fantastically for an 11 o'clock number.
The set was also visually pleasing, mimicking other set designs common for Damn Yankees. Perspective scenery made the sets pop out at the audience. There were two aspects of the show that were a little odd, and both had to do with fog. The problem with fog machines is that they are so noisy anytime the fog sprays. In addition to this, there is a backdrop used during the show that seems out of place. It might be representing a purgatory-esque space, but to me it seems like an ill-considered way to fill the space.
Aside from that and a small scene change debacle, Damn Yankees is a hit out of the park, or rather theatre. It's an all-round sinfully sweet time that, by the finale, will leave you hummin', "You've Gotta Have HEART!"
To see or not to see score: 8/9; Strongly Recommended Show
Photo Credit: Matt Polk