As a fan of the Minnesota Twins I can fully relate to Joe Boyd in Damn Yankees. Both are teams with capable players and coaches, but missing that one player who can provide the spark needed to get the rest of the team believing in themselves again. Not to mention the New York Yankees have also proven to be a problem for the Twins. For the Washington Senators that player is long ball hitting Joe Hardy (Thay Floyd).
Now playing in Saint Paul at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Damn Yankees tells the story of baseball super fan Joe Boyd (Lawrence Clayton) who makes a pact with the devil or in this case Mr. Applegate (Monte Riegel Wheeler), to be transformed into a 26 year old slugger Joe Hardy to help his favorite team. Of course in order to keep watch over his charge Applegate serves as his agent when arranging for him to play with the Senators. It doesn’t take long for Joe to have a positive impact on the Senators. And before long the team is steadily climbing in the standings. Joe is now beloved by the fans and his teammates, but sports reporter Gloria Thorpe (Kersten Rodau) is determined to find out Joe’s story. While playing for his favorite team and helping them beat those damn Yankees is fun for Joe, what he really wants is to return home to his wife Meg (Ann Morrison), who thinks he is away on business. But Applegate has other plans and persuades Lola (Tari Kelly) to seduce Joe to make him change his mind about wanting to return home to Meg.
Legendary choreographer Bob Fosse choreographed the original Broadway production in 1955 and Sharon Halley did a fantastic job incorporating the original moves and style of dance into the show. The set design is simple, but scenic designer J Branson did an amazing job working with Todd F. Edwards blending the use of an actual set with projections.
Damn Yankees is an Ordway production with a cast full of both local and national actors. And even a cameo by local news personality Jason Mattheson (check spelling) from Fox 9 and John Hines from WCCO Radio. The Minnesota Twins are even in on the action and are a producing partner. This collaboration makes complete sense as the Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins in 1962.
Whether you are a baseball fan, sports fan or just a fan of the theatre Damn Yankees has something for everyone.
Damn Yankees is playing at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts through June 28. For more information on the show, visit the show’s website.