Category Archive for: ‘Kedar K. Adour’

DAMN YANKEES hits a three-bagger at Foothill Summer Musicals

Washington Senators coach “Van Buren” (left, Richard Lewis) with the Washington Senators in DAMN YANKEES at Foothill Music Theatre,
playing July 26 – Aug 18, 2013 in the  Smithwick Theatre, Foothill College. Photo by David Allen

DAMN YANKEES: Musical.  Book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop.  Music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and based on the novel “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant” by Douglass Wallop.  Directed by Tom Gough.  Foothill Music Theatre and the Foothill College Theatre Arts Department.  Smithwick Theatre,  Foothill College 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022.  650-949-7360 or  www.foothillmusicals.com .   Through August 18, 2013.

DAMN YANKEES hits a three-bagger at Foothill Summer Musicals

Last year the era of Jay Manley summer musicals at Foothill College came to a close as he moved on to helm the Mountain Musical and other venues.  His departure left a gap. With this year’s production of Damn Yankees, using a baseball term, that gap has been ably filled by experienced director Tom Gough assisted by a talented artistic and technical staff.

Damn Yankees is a fun show that ran for over 1000 performances on Broadway in 1955. In the intervening years it has had many professional mountings and has become a mainstay for local theatres around the country.  It has a breezy dynamic script with rousing songs interspersed with love ballads; vivacious Bob Fosse directed dance numbers and a plethora of humor. In the original production Ray Walston as “Mr. Applegate” and Gwen Verdon as “Lola” put their individual stamp on their roles and the show went on to win seven Tony Awards.

The story is fantasy fun with a delightful twist on the Faust legend. Aging baseball fanatic Joe Boyd (fine baritone Matt Tipton) is upset that his favorite team, the Washington Senators, is not in contention to win their division that includes the hated (Damn) Yankees. His avid addiction is verified when faithful wife Meg (Mary Melnick) and the ensemble sing “Six Months Out of Every Year” to throw in the first pitch to start the evening. What would Joe do to have his team win the pennant? He sells his soul to the devil Mr. Applegate (Jeff Clarke) and becomes a star all-around player Joe Hardy (Daniel Mitchell).  Apple gate, against his better judgment gives Joe an opt-out clause. Old Joe and young Joe sing a charming duet “Goodbye Old Girl” to Meg before a quick scene change to the baseball locker room.

If you don’t have the ability of being a top notch team what do you need? You need “Heart” and full bodied manager Benny Van Buren (absolutely perfect Richard Lewis) leads the male ensemble making them believers. They become more believing when Joe Hardy enters hitting the practice balls out of the park.   Contentious news reporter Gloria Thorpe (professional voiced Caitlin Lawrence-Papp) labels Joe as “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO.”  And the Senators are off to the races climbing toward first place.

Hey there has got to be conflict and that shows up after Joe reflects in song “A Man Doesn’t Know” what he has until he’s lost it.  Applegate summons up the 150 year old Lola (Jen Wheatonfox) who was the ugliest girl in Rhode Island and has sold her soul for sexual beauty. With her powers of “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” (with an emphasis on the latter) she takes on the job of seducing our hero Joe Hardy singing and dancing “Whatever Lola Wants.”

The first act ends with the rousing dance by Lola and Dance Corps giving their all in “Who’s Got the Pain?”

It is a long first act with a 20 minute intermission before the ballplayers return for another hilarious ensemble number “The Game.”  Jeff Clarke nails his irreverent solo number “Those Were the Good Old Days” backed up by the ensemble dancers in front of a flaming red silk backdrop. Shortly after the applause dies down choreographer Katie O’Brien gets to show her ability using classic Fosse dance moves in the stunning production number “Two Lost Souls.”

The production numbers interspersed throughout the story are classic musical comedy fare and director Gough keeps the action moving

The devil Mr. Applegate (Jeff Clarke) calls in his sexy siren Lola (Jen Wheatonfox)

despite some technical glitches that include problems with the amplification. Daniel Mitchell with the physical appearance and strong tenor voice is almost perfect for the part of Joe Hardy. Wheatonfox is beautiful, has a grand interpretive soprano voice, but lacks the physical stature and dancing ability to carry-off the demanding role of Lola. She is further undercut by atrocious costumes (Janis Bergmann). For this reason, Damn Yankee’s just misses a home run. Running time 2 hours and 40 minutes including the intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreinternetmagazine.com

 

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