By Jacqueline Monahan
August Brings Damn Yankees to Spring Mountain Ranch
Despite the title, there are absolutely no Yankees in Super Summer Theatre’s production of Damn Yankees. Not one. There are only the Washington Senators, a woebegone team with dedicated fans, who always seem to be in the shadow of the awesome NY juggernaut.
The production’s outdoor setting at Spring Mountain Ranch works well for a few reasons. What better way to showcase America’s favorite pastime? And since some of the scenes take place in Hell, what better location than Las Vegas is August? Actually, the cool mountain elevation offers a welcome respite from the scorching daytime sun, and the settling dusk-turned-inky night sky offsets the colorful lighting and stage backdrops that make this production so absorbing.
The Perfect Outdoor Setting
Everything works here, the location, the music, the casting – all of it comes together in a seamless tale that begins with a deal with the devil and ends with true love reaffirmed.
Keith Dorson, Glenn Heath, and Jennifer Bacigalupi: Bargaining for Joe's Soul
The musical comedy is based on Douglass Wallop's novel “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant” and is set during the 1950’s in Washington, D.C. during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League Baseball. Director Steve Huntsman (Aida, Once on this Island) keeps the energy high and the sets arresting, which makes for a willingly captive (and captivated) audience.
The plot in a nutshell:
Middle aged salesman Joe Boyd (Glenn Heath) gets the chance to become a 22-year-old “long ball hitter” named Joe Hardy (Brandon Nix), just what the ailing Washington Senators need. There’s one catch: He must sell his soul to Mr. Applegate aka The Devil (Keith Dotson) to do it, leaving his wife, Meg (Jennifer Bacigalupi), behind during his season of glory. Joe insists on an escape clause, and Applegate resorts to playing dirty to keep Joe from breaking the deal, using his seductive assistant Lola (Traci Kesisian) to full advantage. Meanwhile, Washington Senators Manager Van Buren (Jonathan Lee Sangster) tries to protect his greatest asset, while reporter Gloria Thorpe (Olivia Goode) tries to get to the bottom of the Joe Hardy phenomenon.
The large ensemble cast (24) sings, dances and in some instances vamps its way through 16 musical numbers, beginning with the whimsical lament of baseball widows, “Six Months Out of Every Year” led by the endearingly sympathetic Jennifer Bacigalupi as Joe’s long-suffering wife, Meg.
"Six Months Out of the Year"
Songs can be poignant like “Goodbye Old Girl”, “A Man Doesn’t Know” and “Near to You”, sung by Glenn Heath as Old Joe and Brandon Nix as Young Joe, both actors in touching, heartfelt portrayals that make the audience root for each one. Nix, who carries the bulk of his scenes with a youthful zeal tinged by conscience, is especially effective as the young man who pines for his old life.
Old Joe (Glenn Heath), Young Joe (Brandon Nix) and Meg (Jennifer Bacigalupi)
Comedic numbers like “Heart” with Jonathan Lee Sangster at the helm showcase the Washington Senators as a team full of that very attribute. Sangster is a mass of humorous bravado in a striped uniform, a gruff cheerleader of a manager who can rival the legendary Knute Rockne for motivational calisthenics.
Jonathan Lee Sangster(far right) Fills the Team with "Heart"
The team, led by Olivia Goode, also raises the roof with the rousing “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO”, a celebration of the discovery of young Joe Hardy and how he’ll be presented by the press. Goode’s brash Gloria injects a refreshing girl power into the male-dominated sport. “The Game” is a song of both determination and frustration as the team tries to keep their eyes on the (pennant) prize, even though that means giving up women for a while.
"Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO" featuring Olivia Goode (center)
“Those Were the Good Old Days” and “Two Lost Souls” showcase Keith Dotson’s saucy, satanic prowess as Hell’s chief ambassador and soul collector. Dotson, whether speaking, singing, or dancing, projects a little fun, a little mischief, and a whole lot of evil gleefulness as Mr. Applegate the ahem…salesman.
Keith Dotson as the Devilish Mr. Applegate
Then there’s the suggestive “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” and the seductive “Whatever Lola Want, Lola Gets”, both sung by the one-woman showstopper Traci Kesisian, who struts, primps, caresses, and slinks about the stage in a performance that puts the capital “V” in VA-VA-Voom and I don’t mean virginal. Ms. Kesisian brings a sensual fire to the stage and not just because her character’s from hell. The talented actress is a delight whether in a one-on one scene or leading the ensemble in a spicy dance number called “Whose Got the Pain?”
"Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets" featuring Traci Kesisian
Lola Leads the Team in "Who's Got the Pain?"
All of the players in this sell-your-soul-for-baseball saga deliver hits, making Damn Yankees a production that scores over and over again with no outs, and certainly, no errors.
About Super Summer Theatre ’10:
Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the gate, and can be purchased at the UNLV Performing Arts Box Office, Prestige Travel at Lake Mead and Rampart, or online at unlvtickets.com.
Guests may bring a blanket or chair for use in general-admission grass seating, suitable for enjoying a picnic or treats from the concession stand.
Gates open at 6 p.m. Performances run Thursday through Saturday beginning at 8 p.m. Spring Mountain Ranch is located 10 miles west of the Charleston/215 exit. The final show for the 2010 Season is author Larry Shue’s The Foreigner, which will run from September 9 - 25.
For further information:
(702) 594-PLAY (7529).