The Department of Theatre has heart in their 2016 musical production entitled Damn Yankees. The premiere is tonight, April 20 at 8 p.m. with additional performances on April 21, 22 and 23.
The storyline follows middle-aged man Joe Boyd in the 1950s, played by musical theatre senior Jared Kyle, as he is continuously let down by the Washington Senators baseball team. He strikes a deal with the sly, smooth talker Applegate and is transformed into all-star Joe Hardy.
A take on the Faustian bargain, Boyd yells out in frustration, “I’d sell my soul for one long ball hitter,” and sends himself into the game of a lifetime.
Some of the many aspects the department included to allow for a truly believable performance of a northern baseball team in the 1950s included their specific selection of costumes and incredible attention to detail.
Characters such as Van Buren, played by musical theatre junior Joe Serpa Daniels, Rocky, played by musical theatre sophomore Zachary J. Willis and Mr. Applegate, played by musical theatre junior Blake Jackson, gave performances that exceeded expectations in their on-stage reactions and their northern accents.
Damn Yankees additionally features many different elaborate backdrops such as Applegate’s devilish lair, a breakaway house and the locker room of the Washington Senators, where many moments of the musical begin to heat up.
Before the production officially began, it was humbling to see actors help one another with stage positions, choreography and costume design. It was apparent the cast is passionate about the success of the performance.
Instead of pre-recorded soundtracks, Damn Yankees utilizes university music students for a live orchestra. The production is able to take advantage of the natural breath marks from the orchestra, which brought a liveliness to the production.
Meg, played by musical theatre junior Katelyn Anderson, opened with powerful vocals along with Kyle and the male and female ensemble. The back and forth nature of the song alluded to the underlying issue of the time period along with the unsteady marriage of Meg and Joe.
Six Months had moments of error but the cast was able to successfully adapt to spacing issues which produced a successful run, despite a broken pin roller on stage.
In the song Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo., overzealous Senators’ fan and reporter Gloria Thorpe, played by musical theatre sophomore Faith Fryer, gave the performance of a lifetime. Her bold vocals intensified as the song progressed and matched the energy of all actors on stage.
Fryer, along with Willis performed with ease throughout the entirety of the number and created moments that left audience members speechless. Fryer exceled at everything the male actors could do- while wearing a skirt.
The original Damn Yankees premiered in 1955 and ran for 1019 shows until 1958.
Applegate’s hypersexual assistant in soul-seizing, Lola, played by musical theatre senior Taylor Beyer, is a character of ever-changing proportions, as Beyer was able to portray an array of emotions from seduction to empathy.
Beyer’s vocals demanded attention and paired well with Joe Hardy, musical theatre sophomore Jeremy Gee.
Gee’s reactions to his cast members were genuine and appeared seamless as the musical progressed.
Damn Yankees features a wide variety of characters, emotions, songs and dances that capture the essence of a 1950s baseball team with a deceivingly rooted Faustian storyline.
Damn Yankees will premiere on April 20 at 8 p.m. in the Erica Starr Theatre. Additional productions follow on April 21, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for SHSU students with university ID. Visit http://www.shsu.edu/academics/theatre/tickets/ or call the theatre box office at 936.294.1339 for tickets.