Damn Yankees hits home run with audience

By Kat Capossela
Staff Writer

One of the more mainstream musicals Director Mark Lindberg P’15 has selected over the years, this winter’s production of musical comedy Damn Yankees brought to life a 1950s baseball rivalry that had audiences enthralled.

The three productions from March 5–7 began with 50-year-old baseball fanatic Joe Boyd (Alex Medzorian ’15) ignoring the pleas of his wife (Chloe Tinagero ’15) to drop his unhealthy obsession with the failing Washington Senators. The game changes when the devil, “Mr. Applegate” (James Lindberg ’15), offers Joe a deal: if he gives up his marriage and sells his soul, Joe will become the slugger the Senators need to beat the Yankees. Accepting, Joe becomes the young, agile Joe Hardy (Tynan Friend ’15) and has until September 24 at midnight to choose between his dream career and the love of his life.

“It’s more of an entertainment piece than shows have been in the past,” Tynan said. “I think that the audience really appreciates this heightened entertainment and the traditional Broadway spectacle style.”

Mr. Lindberg said he chose this well-known and light-hearted musical to branch out from the darker themes he has presented in years past and to give audiences variety from year to year.

Though producing Broadway musicals is always fun, Mr. Lindberg said adapting the shows’ technical needs to the school’s stage is always a challenge. Because few curtain drawings can occur, the 25 student actors must discreetly change the set while the production goes on. One 10-minute intermission was needed for the cast to quickly reshape the set to accommodate the many baseball park scenes.

Playing an overweight, middle-aged man, Alex said his biggest challenge was learning to maneuver with a fat suit on.

“It throws you off at first, but you get used to it,” he said.

Adding intrigue to the production were three kissing scenes between real-life old flames Tynan and Katie Massie ’16, the latter playing Lola, who must do the devil’s bidding because, over a century before, he transformed her from “the ugliest girl in Providence, Rhode Island” to a sultry seductress.

“I always get a kick out of watching Katie and Tynan make out,” said Zack Horwitz ’16, who played Van Buren, the Senators’ coach. “That never gets old.”

Mr. Lindberg reflected on the many amusing rehearsal moments as well.

“My philosophy is if we aren’t having a good time, the audience won’t either,” he said. “You must always have energy, and because of that, we are constantly having a great time.”

Both Tynan and Alex praised Hannah Martin ’15 and Sophie Attie ’16, who played bantering superfans Sister and Doris, for their hilarious dialogues.

“They work so well together on stage,” Tynan said, noting “their great comedic timing and chemistry that is palpable in their friendship off the stage.”

Alex additionally praised James’ dedication to his character and the performance of first-time actor Daniel Strodel ’16 as Senators player Rocky.

“The kid nailed it in the performance,” Alex said. “It’s been awesome to help him and to watch him rehearse and learn the process, and it’s obviously paid off.”

Chloe said Zack’s performance entertained her during the production.

“You want to smile when you hear Zack sing,” she said. “He’s literally playing himself.”

Mr. Lindberg commended all of the actors for coming out strong after snow days forced  the cast to miss over 16 hours of rehearsal.

But audience members from every quarter complimented the strength of the cast.

“There’s a lot of talent and really great characters. The whole thing was really amazing,” said Gina Foote P ’17, whose daughter—Charlotte Foote ’17—played a role in the Company. “Their voices were strong, and they were really confident in their roles. It was very believable acting.”

History Teacher Matt Turnbull praised the actors’ energy during the scene where the Senators won the pennant.

“Their joy felt genuine, both within the context of the play and in real life,” he said. “It felt like the actors were simultaneously in the world of the baseball stadium and celebrating their own performance on the stage.”

Fiona McCarey ’15 attended the performance Thursday after noon and then again on Friday night.

“I contemplated going again,” she said. “It was that good.”

Mr. Lindberg said his main goal has been continuous improvement.

“You want an audience to be engaged by a good piece of theater, ideally remembering these shows for the rest of their lives,” he added.

As for the actors, they were grateful to be part of the production and to work with friends in a different setting.

“We are a big team and community,” Zack said, “just like the Washington Senators.”

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