Volume 92, Issue 91
Friday, March 19, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Talbot Yankees team hits one out of the park
By Terry Warne
Damn Yankee! This musical is a toe-tappin', butt-wigglin', crowd-pleasin' exercise in good wholesome fun.
Damn Yankees, set in the golden age of baseball, follows Joe a devoted fan of the sad sack Washington Senators. In order to improve the team, beat the Yankees and live a dream, he sells his soul to the devil to become young again and a star baseball player. In a short time, Joe realizes there are more important things in life than baseball (like his wife) and decides to give it up but not before foiling the evil designs of the devil, who appears in human form as the devious Mr. Applegate.
The show benefits most from strong performances by the two leads, played respectively by John Gerry and James Noonan. As Mr. Applegate, Gerry hams it up with zealous glee. He oozes across the stage with a perennial smirk, always commanding the attention of his audience. Much of the play's comic relief is provided by Gerry's facial expressions and physical comedy.
James Noonan, who portrays the central character Joe Hardy, typifies the perfect gosh, gee-willickers, have another slice of apple pie, Wally Cleaver sensibility. Noonan provides the right amount of wide-eyed innocence and polite defiance. What also sets him apart is his powerful singing voice, tackling songs in a fashion which leaves the audience cheering.
More comic relief is provided by the motley collection of baseball players, led by their garrulous manager. It's a rogues gallery of characters and caricatures, each providing their own individual quirks. Their antics and pratfalls will illicit many laughs, such as a locker-room scene which has the team running around in towels.
A strong scene within the musical is when Mr. Applegate's minion Lola tries to seduce the decidedly square Joe in the team's locker-room. Lola's slinking and Joe's bashful stammering provide many comedic moments. The scene concludes with Joe grabbing his athletic supporter and hightailing it out of there, wearing little more than his boxer shorts.
Also impressive are the ensemble numbers which have much of the cast singing and dancing on stage. The scenes are well choreographed and approached with a refreshing exuberance, a highlight being the show-stopping "Heart." The amount of activity which takes place is a spectacle, always providing something new for the viewer's pleasure.
The cast of Damn Yankees, comprised of Western students and members of the London community, are obviously having fun with their roles, which translates well into the play's genre.
Unfortunately, there are moments when the band overpowers the singing, which results in the audience missing some lyrics. As well, the band needs to tighten their playing in order to polish the overall effect of the production.
That being said, Damn Yankees, which plays at Talbot College Theatre until next Saturday, is a damn good time.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999