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Walt Whitman High School Damn Yankees

By • Nov 24th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

Homeruns, cracker jacks, hot dogs and baseball. You can’t get much more American than the ballpark. Add some deals with the devil, a seductive temptress, amazing special effects and a cast of incredibly talented actors and you’ve got Walt Whitman’s production of Damn Yankees.

Damn Yankees, which premiered in 1955, chronicles the story of Joe Boyd (Clayton Smith), a dedicated and discouraged Washington Senators fan, who sells his soul to the devil, Mr. Applegate, (Andy Berry) for the chance to go back and be the team’s star player, Joe Hardy (Sammy Zeisel). However, Joe underestimates how much he will miss his wife, Meg (Leah Chiaverini), even when Applegate sends in his prime home wrecker, Lola (Lily Maroni) to tempt Joe away. Ultimately Damn Yankees proves that like the song says, “a man doesn’t know what he has until he loses it.”

Whitman’s production of the show was outstanding. The special effects, complete with fog, strobe lights and even a trick where Applegate pulls fire out of his sleeve really added to overall effect of the show. The set was incredibly detailed and the huge scene transitions from the Devil’s office to the locker room to the “Limbo” nightclub were performed swiftly and efficiently by the crew. In addition, the cast written commercial jingles made the scene transitions almost unnoticeable, though they became a bit repetitive by the end of the show. Any microphone or prop malfunctions, of which there were a few, were quickly breezed over by the unaffected cast.

The leads of the show were committed and talented. Vocal standouts included Sammy Zeisel, Leah Chiaverini, and Clayton Smith, especially during their beautiful harmony in the poignant song “Near to You.” The energy during Lily Maroni’s solos “Whatever Lola Wants” and “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” was captivating as was her portrayal of Lola’s growth throughout the story.

The commitment and energy of the entire ensemble, especially the chemistry of baseball team was fantastic. While there were a few vocal slips, and occasional dancing mishaps, the ensemble really helped energize what was a pretty long show. And in addition, the student choreography by Sarah Blush was impressive, especially in “Six Months,” which included almost the entire ensemble.

All in all, Whitman’s production of Damn Yankees was so outstanding that the cast had the audience ready to sell their own souls to be able to see it again.

by Emily Weiswasser of St. Albans & National Cathedral Schools

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