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Damn Yankees hits it out of the park

Marriott’s revival loads the bases with talent.

The devil goes down to Washington (D.C.) in the 1955 musical Damn Yankees, and he’s rarely been more irresistible than in his current incarnation at the Marriott Lincolnshire.

Directed by James Vásquez and choreographed with rambunctious athleticism by Tyler Hanes, the musical by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop (book) and Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (music and lyrics) follows the adventures of one Joe Boyd (Ron Rains), and his miraculous transformation into a superstar ball player, Joe Hardy (Andrew Alstat). Actually, “miraculous” isn’t quite the right word, context considering.

When Sean Fortunato’s literal smokeshow of a Satan (who goes by Mr. Applegate, the name a nod to Eve’s temptation) materializes, he shines as bright as the fires of hell—even before he starts pulling burning cigarettes from his mouth. Just as incandescent: Michelle Aravena as Applegate’s femme fatale assistant.

Under music director Ryan T. Nelson, the score’s red-hot sizzlers like “Whatever Lola Wants” and “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” burn as bright as the bat-swinging crowd-pleasers (“Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO”) and quirky classics (“Who’s Got the Pain?”). And as Joe Boyd’s long-suffering wife Meg, Daniella Dalli shows the audience just what true devotion—as opposed to sportsball fanaticism—looks like.

The production plays out on set designer Regina García’s baseball park-in-the-round, complete with stadium lights banked around the stage and a simple but ingeniously crafted locker room.

I’m just gonna go for the obvious. The show’s a home run.