"Damn Yankees!" was originally adapted from the novel, "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant." The novel, like many others, gives the classic literary idea of Faust, who trades his soul for knowledge, a special twist by adding baseball to the story. In 1955, Broadway gave the story yet another twist by using music and character.
Over fifty years later, the Hampton Talbots have added yet another twist to the story, bringing character, teamwork, and zest into the musical. The auditorium, not too full and not too empty, was full of chatter when I entered; it seemed like the whole Hampton community had come to enjoy the show on a Saturday night. The lights began to flash and the audience took their places as the overture began, quickly sweeping through bits and pieces of the soon to come three hours of music.
Beginning in a classic 1950s living room, the first scene ended with a big dance number, beautifully choreographed, with a little humor and certainly a lot of sass, showing the exchanges between husbands and wives. The cast used the modern era to its advantage, giving the play a provocative feel throughout the course of Act 1 and Act 2.
The team of baseball players appeared. Escaping the stereotypes of high school boys, the Washington Senators danced and sang their hearts out, interacting with the audience to receive sweeping applause and quite a few belly laughs.
The first act ended, after two hours, with what seemed like an out of place dance, with the lights dimmed and the characters in swanky outfits. Their dance was fluid and looked like it belonged more in the musical "Chicago" than in a musical about baseball. Nevertheless, the choreography never ceased to succeed, providing great dances and great interactions between the characters through the end.
The second act, quite obviously out of proportion, lasted less than an hour, and seemed to sweep by very quickly but wrapped up the story nicely.
The Hampton Talbots showed their talents beautifully, showing off their graduating seniors very well, as usual, with funny accents and movement, while exhibiting a strong future for their theater department in their younger students.
The Kelly Critics is a joint program of the Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh CLO's Gene Kelly Awards for Excellence in High School Musicals, in which students at Kelly schools review musicals at other Kelly schools. Reviews are edited by senior theater critic Christopher Rawson (firstname.lastname@example.org), a long-time Kelly Awards judge.
First Published April 22, 2012 3:15 PM