Paper Mill Playhouse's DAMN YANKEES Plays The 5th Avenue Theatre, Now thru 5/20
Damn Yankees is headed to The 5th Avenue Theatre! This musical comedy is the story of an aging baseball fan who makes a deal with the Devil so his beloved hometown team can beat the Yankees in the race for the pennant. From the songwriting team of The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees is filled with hit songs including "Two Lost Souls" and the sultry favorite, "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets." The Paper Mill Playhouse production will slide into Seattle this April. The creative team includes direction by Mark S. Hoebee (Paper Mill's Producing Artistic Director), music direction by Ben Whiteley, and choreography by Denis Michael Jones.
"Damn Yankees is one of the great musicals of the Golden Era of Broadway," said 5th Avenue Theatre Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong. "We're very excited to bring this show to our stage for the first time, complete with major league talent from a mix of Broadway and Seattle musical theater all-stars."
This Faustian tale will feature a line-up of hitters from Seattle and Broadway including Hugh Hastings as aging baseball enthusiast Joe Boyd, Christopher Charles Wood as Young Joe Hardy, Patti Cohenour as the baseball widow Meg Boyd, Hans Altwies as Mr. Applegate (the Devil in disguise), and Chryssie Whitehead as the legendary seductress Lola. Allen Fitzpatrick and Nancy Anderson join the roster as Coach Benny Van Buren and Gloria Thorpe, ace reporter.
Damn Yankees plays April 21 – May 20, 2012 at The 5th Avenue Theatre (1308 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101). Tickets (starting at $19.00) may be purchased at www.5thavenue.org, by phone at 206-625-1900, or at the Box Office at 1308 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle.
Christopher Charles Wood is going to bat as young all-star Joe Hardy, the Senator's homerun hero. Wood recently starred as Melchior in the national tour of Spring Awakening and has enjoyed success performing in tours and regional houses across the nation in Curtains, Crazy For You, Gypsy, Annie, Smokey Joe's Café, Forever Plaid, The Rocky Horror Show, The Civil War, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Annie, and Chicago, among others.
Tony and Drama Desk nominee (not to mention Pacific Northwest treasure) Patti Cohenour will play Meg Boyd, a wife deserted by her husband for the thrills of America's greatest pastime. This three-time Seattle Footlight Award-winner has a career spanning opera, Shakespeare, musical theater, and everything in between. She made her Broadway debut in A Doll's House and has since performed on the Great White Way as Signora Naccarelli in The Light in the Piazza at Lincoln Center, Mother Abbess in the 1997 Broadway revival of The Sound of Music, Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera, Rosa Bud in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Mary Jane Wilkes in Big River. At The 5th Avenue Theatre alone, her extensive credits include Sunday in the Park with George, The Wizard of Oz, The Most Happy Fella, 1776, and The Secret Garden.
The devil's seductress Lola will be played by saucy New York starlet Chryssie Whitehead. She recently appeared with Neil Patrick Harris in New York Philharmonic's production of Company, after having made her Broadway debut as Kristine in the revival of A Chorus Line. She has been featured on multiple TV series including Grey's Anatomy, The Mentalist, In Plain Sight, Boston Public, and many others. Whitehead's notable silver screen appearances include Revenge of the Bridesmaids and RiffRaff, as well as a turn as Julia Stiles' dance double in Save the Last Dance.
Bringing the heat as the deal-doling Applegate (the devil in disguise) is one of Seattle's finest actors, Hans Altwies, who is making his 5th Avenue debut. He has held multiple starring roles locally at New Century Theatre Company (where he is co-artistic director), Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Wooden O, Intiman, Seattle Children's Theatre, ACT, as well as Shakespeare Santa Cruz. Altwies is the recipient of the 2010 Gregory Award for Best Actor, and played the title role in SCT's production of Robin Hood.
Hugh Hastings is stepping up to the plate as Joe Boyd, an aging baseball fan so desperate for his team to win that he makes a deal with the Devil: his very soul in exchange for his transformation into the athletic young ballplayer the team needs. A Seattle-based actor since 1980, Hastings is thrilled to keep playing on his home turf. He has performed roles with Village Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Children's Theatre, ACT, Empty Space, Seattle Shakespeare Company, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, to name a few. Hastings also has taught acting for such organizations as the University of Washington, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Children's Theatre and The 5th Avenue Theatre. Most recently, he played Buffalo Bill in Annie Get Your Gun at Village Theatre, Tiger Brown in The Threepenny Opera at Seattle Shakespeare Company, and Hector P. Valenti in Lyle the Crocodile at Seattle Children's Theatre.
Allen Fitzpatrick plays hardball in Damn Yankees as Coach Benny Van Buren, a role he played on Broadway in 1994 opposite Jerry Lewis. Fitzpatrick has also performed on Broadway in Driving Miss Daisy, Memphis, Sweet Smell of Success, and 42nd Street, among others. He has performed in five national tours, including Sunset Boulevard, starring as Max opposite Petula Clark. Fitzpatrick returns immediately to The 5th after performing in both Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and Cinderella. His previous 5th Avenue appearances include Sweeney Todd, Candide, On the Town, Memphis, and Cabaret, among many others. He is the artistic director of Icicle Creek Theatre Festival.
Joining the roster as the reporter Gloria is Nancy Anderson in her 5th Avenue Theatre debut. Anderson has performed on Broadway in Wonderful Town and A Class Act, and has performed in London in Kiss Me Kate, for which she received an Olivier Award. She has performed Off-Broadway in Fanny Hill, Jolson & Co., Ionescopade, and Yank!, and has toured in productions of Kiss Me Kate and Doctor Dolittle.
Filling out the roster are Carol Swarbrick as Sister, Julie Briskman as Doris, Richard Ziman as Mr. Welch, Bob De Dea as the Commissioner, and Beth DeVries as Miss Weston. The ensemble is stacked with major league talent, including David Alewine, Blaine Boyd, Scott Brateng, Gabe Corey, Daniel Cruz, Sarah Rose Davis, Christian Duhamel, Michael Paul Ericson, Eric Esteb, Kasey Nusbickel, Matthew Posner, Dane Stokinger, and Vaden Thurgood.
Mark S. Hoebee is the producing artistic director of Paper Mill Playhouse where he joined the artistic team in 2000. He has directed Paper Mill productions of Dreamgirls, The Will Rogers Follies, Victor / Victoria, The King and I, Miss Saigon, Grease, Harold and Maude: The Musical with Estelle Parsons, Hello, Dolly! starring Tovah Feldshuh, Romance / Romance, Meet Me in St. Louis, Disney's High School Musical, The Full Monty featuring Elaine Stritch, Smokey Joe's Café, and Peter Pan, as well as many national tours and regional productions. Under his leadership, Paper Mill recently launched the 25th Anniversary tour of Les Misérables, and premiered Disney's Newsies. Hoebee performed in more than 10 Broadway and national tour productions and has served as an adjunct professor in the Dance and Theatre Department at Northwestern University. He currently sits on the board of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance.
Choreographer Denis Michael Jones started Damn Yankees in New Jersey, having choreographed the Paper Mill productions of Smokey Joe's Café, Disney's High School Musical and Meet Me in St. Louis. He served as dance coach/associate choreographer on the MTV reality series Legally Blonde the Musical: the Search for Elle Woods. Jones choreographed Broadway's The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, A Wonderful Life, On the Twentieth Century, and the national tour of Legends starring Joan Collins and Linda Evans. He served as the director of Broadway Bares from 2005 to 2007 and was the associate choreographer to Jerry Mitchell for Broadway's Legally Blonde and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. He is also an accomplished performer, with Broadway performance credits including Grease, Chicago, Little Me, The Full Monty, and Never Gonna Dance.
Ben Whiteley joins the Paper Mill team as music director. Whiteley received both a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of Michigan in voice and in opera performance. Whitely conducted Cats for six years on Broadway, and has worked on many national tours including Falsettos, Grand Hotel, Big, The Full Monty, and Spamalot. For twelve years, he was the associate music director for the ENCORES! Series at City Center in New York. He has done various other projects including two concerts at Carnegie Hall: one a salute to Betty Comden and Adolph Green, and the other a salute to Alan Jay Lerner.
The design team for Damn Yankees includes Rob Bissinger (Set Design), Alejo Vietti (Costume Design), Tom Sturge (Lighting Design), and Andrew G. Luft (Sound Design). Also on the team are Brandon Ivie (Associate Director), Matt Hohensee (Associate Music Director), Kim Craven (Associate Choreographer), Bruce Monroe (Orchestrations and Additional Arrangements), Christian DeAngelis (Associate Lighting Designer), and Thomas LeGalley (Assistant Costume Designer).
Songwriting team Richard Adler and Jerry Ross first collaborated on the revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac. Subsequently, the duo premiered The Pajama Game on Broadway in 1954, which went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical. Almost exactly one year later, Damn Yankees hit the Great White Way and equaled The Pajama Game's success. Many of Adler and Ross songs hit the radio waves with two soaring to #1 on the charts. The partnership was cut short due to Ross's untimely death at age 29 in 1955. At the time of his death, he had the number one and number two shows running on Broadway. In 1982, Ross was admitted posthumously to the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Adler went on to write alone and with other partners, but besides a Tony nomination for Kwamina, his writing success never matched his career with Ross. During the Kennedy and Johnson years, Adler was appoinTEd White House Consultant of the Arts and staged many "Presidenticals." Over his lifetime, he received four Pulitzer nominations, two Variety Critics Awards, an Emmy, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southampton Cultural Center and the University of North Carolina, and an Honorary Doctorate in Music and Theater from Wagner College, among other distinctions.
Book writer George Abbott (1887-1995) was a director, author, performer and producer whose career in the American theater spanned more than seven decades and earned him the title of "Mr. Broadway." Over the years, Abbott's contribution to the Broadway musical was immense. He introduced the fast-paced, tightly integrated style that influenced so many actors, dancers, singers, and particularly fellow directors such as Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse. At the age of 106, George Abbott advised director Jack O'Brien on the revisions to his original book for the 1994 Broadway revival of Damn Yankees.
Abbott was involved as a director, producer or writer with such memorable musicals Wonderful Town, Me and Juliet, The Pajama Game, Once Upon a Mattress, Fiorello!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Flora the Red Menace, and How Now, Dow Jones among many others. Over his lifetime, Abbott received multiple Tony Awards, the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Award of Merit (1965), and the 1959 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Fiorello!