BWW Reviews: Drayton Entertainment's 'DAMN YANKEES'

BWW Reviews: Drayton Entertainment's 'DAMN YANKEES'

Huron Country Playhouse has a heart-warming home run hit with Damn Yankees, now on the main stage. This little-known Broadway musical dates back to 1955, and while you might not be familiar with the show, you will certainly recognize some of the tunes.

Based on the Faustian legend about a German scholar who makes a pact with the Devil in exchange for great knowledge and wisdom, this show is reminiscent of the great Canadian curling play, The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon, written by W. O. Mitchell in 1951.

In Damn Yankees, Meg and Joe Boyd are a happily married couple, but as Meg points out in her first song, he is glued to the TV watching baseball "Six Months Out of Every Year". Joe is the ultimate Washington Senators fan and would give anything to see The Senators beat those damn Yankees. Suddenly, the Devil himself shows up, with the alias Mr. Applegate, offering to make Joe Boyd into the young Joe Hardy, a hitter who can save the Senators, and ultimately beat the Yankees. But then the Devil will own Joe's soul forever. Luckily Joe asks for an escape clause to back to his wife. Will he make it? There are many temptations. You'll have to see the show.

Charlotte Moore is perfect as Meg, who literally becomes a baseball widow. Moore in her fifties-style polka-dot skirt tugs your heart strings with her beautiful singing. James Kall plays middle-aged Joe, while Liam Tobin, fresh from his role as Lieutenant Cable in South Pacific, plays young Shoeless Joe. Both are good with their parts and both have excellent chemistry with Moore. Moore and Tobin show their fondness for each other making it natural and comfortable.

The role of the Devil is played by the very charming Mark Cassius. Cassius is very enticing and convincing, tap-dancing his way around while working his black magic. Kira Guloien as Lola is the Devil's temptress side-kick, doing her best to lead Joe off the straight and narrow.

Heather McGuigan gives us an excellent interpretation of the fifties tough girl reporter, who wants to know young Joe's background. McGuigan makes Gloria hard-nosed yet very likable. She also tap-dances with the entire ball team in the delightful "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo".

Kudos to the ensemble for the big song and dance numbers, especially the ball players for their baton-style baseball bat choreography. And a shout out to Karen Wood for her brilliant comedy as Sister.

The set is well done, opening with 1950s baseball cards. We are led from a cute fifties bungalow to the lights of the baseball diamond, the locker room and the owner's office. Red lighting bathes the stage every time the Devil and his vamp visit.

Damn Yankees is much more than a baseball show. In fact, those who don't know baseball will still enjoy it. It's a sweet love story with acting, singing and dancing that will win the pennant.

Damn Yankees continues with eight shows a week until July 12 at Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend. Tickets are available by calling the Box Office: 519-238-6000 or Toll Free 1-855-372-9866, or check www.huroncountryplayhouse.com

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Mary Alderson Mary has been a fan of live theatre since her first visit to the Stratford Festival as a child, where she saw Christopher Walken and Louise Marleau in Romeo and Juliet. As a teenager, she had a summer job at the Grand Bend Tourist Information booth. Huron Country Playhouse founder James Murphy gave her free tickets to his inaugural season so she could promote it to visitors. She has a vivid memory of sitting in a tent on a folding chair, with her feet up on the seat in front of her, to avoid the rivulets of rain flowing through the mud and gravel towards the stage. Unfortunately, the productions that summer were less memorable, but have improved greatly over the years.

Mary holds a B.A. in Honours English and an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario. After graduation, Mary was a reporter for the Exeter Times-Advocate and reviewed shows at Huron Country Playhouse. Many years later, in 2004, Mary returned to writing reviews and posting them on her blog at www.EntertainThisThought.com . She lives in Strathroy, Ontario, central to the Stratford Festival, London’s Grand Theatre, Huron Country Playhouse in Grand Bend, Victoria Playhouse Petrolia, the Blyth Festival and more. Mary is a member of the Canadian Theatre Critics Association (www.canadiantheatrecritics.ca). By day, she works for the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations, (www.ontcfdc.com ) where she sees first-hand how a professional theatre can be an asset to the economic development of a community.


 
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