Marriott Theatre brings to its stage DAMN YANKEES, the most iconic baseball musical written during the golden baby-boomer era of the 1950s.
If you love America's greatest pastime sport, baseball, and live in a city where your team hasn't won a championship in decades or similar to the Chicago Cubs for over a century, then you can understand the ire and hatred of the Washington Senators had towards the Yankees. Once known as the Baltimore Orioles in 1903, Frank Farrell and Bill Devery purchased the franchise rights to the defunct and changed the name to the New York Highlanders because they played on a hilltop. The name was changed to the New York Yankees in 1913. During the '50s, the Yankees had won six World Series in ten years—four were won before the musical was written in 1955.
The musical based on the novel, "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant," retells the Faust legend where a man exchanges his soul to the devil; however, in this musical, it's to a fanatic fan and his love for the game of baseball. Frustrated that his Washington Senators seem destined not to make the pennant race, Joe Body finds himself face to face with a devious, smooth-talking character named Applegate, that offers Joe a chance to live out his dreams of becoming a Hall of Fame baseball player that could help his beloved Senators win the pennant. But, of course, the price of all of this fame is that Joe would have to leave his current life behind, which includes ditching his "Old Girl" ("Goodbye Old Girl") to become a young baseball phenom named Joe Hardy. But, unfortunately, he also has to give up his soul! Joe agrees but forces the hand of Mr. Applegate by insisting on an escape clause. Reluctantly, Applegate relinquishes to Joe's demand, but Joe has until September 25 to exercise his escape clause, or he will forever become one of the devil's minions.
DAMN YANKEES became a Broadway hit, winning seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The original Broadway role of Mr. Applegate was played by Ray Walston, known famously for his role in the 1960's sitcom, My Favorite Martian, and by one of the original Rat Pack members (before the days of Frank Sinatra), Jerry Lewis. Marriot Theatre, known for its outstanding productions, hits it out of the park with DAMN YANKEES. Featuring an exceptional performance by Andrew Alstat (Joe Hardy), Sean Fortunato, who brilliantly plays the devilish Mr. Aggplegate, Daniella Dalli (Meg Boyd), the incredible Ron E. Rains(Joe Boyd), a masterful performance by Lorenzo Rush, Jr. (Van Buren, Husband), and making her debut at Marriot Theater, Michelle Aravena, this two-act performance with greats songs (Heart, Whatever Lola Wants and A Man Doesn't Know) is a home run. Director James Vasquez perfectly blends great talents and singing while choreographed by Tyler Hanes, who had them dancing like you were reliving the golden age days of Fred Astaire of the '50s. Other cast members to note were the talented Erica Stephan, Heidi Kettenring, Michael Kingston, Jonah D. Winston, and the entire members of the Senators. The one drawback was the glaring age difference between Aravena, who looked ten years older than Alstat.
Ironically, the Washington Senators, one of the American League's eight charter franchises (Now known as the Minnesota Twins), was one of the more successful franchises in Major League Baseball, winning the World Series in 1933—22 years before the musical was written. But, unfortunately, they will be remembered for their many years of futility, including six last-place finishes.
You can count on Marriott Theatre to give its audience great theatrical performances, and DAMN YANKEES is Damn Good!
Let's Play Theatrical Review Highly Recommends DAMN YANKEES!