Damn Yankees a Slice of Heaven from Gilbert's Hale Centre Theatre

damnyankeeslola.jpg
Hale Centre Theatre
Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets. Apparently she wanted the best buckram picture hat ever.
The setup: Damn Yankees is a zippy, popular 1955 musical about a rabid baseball fan, Joe Boyd, who says he'd sell his soul for a long-ball hitter for his beloved Washington Senators team. Satan, badly disguised as a guy named Mr. Applegate (and it's taken me my whole life to realize there's a reason for that name), is always within earshot when people say that kind of stuff, so he offers Joe a deal. High jinks ensue. Also much pelvic thrusting originally choreographed by Bob Fosse.

See also:
Joe DiPietro's Over the River and Through the Woods Is a Funny, Sensitive Slice of the '90s
Hale Centre's Annie Get Your Gun Satisfies as Only a Summer Re-Run Can

The execution: Hale Centre Theatre's current production of Yankees is just about letter-perfect, with strong vocals, athletic choreography by director Cambrian James that manages more interesting moves on Hale's in-the-round stage than one often sees there, and adorable and convincing (and sneakily dance-friendly) period costumes by Corrin Dietlein. (And some genuinely awful wigs, but what are you gonna do? At least they're mostly on the chorus and only briefly.)

There's very little plot here, as perhaps you are already aware, and what there is is largely governed by conveniently invented supernatural principles that don't always hold up in the face of Love (kind of Harry Pottery that way). Some of the dance numbers are just shoehorned in, in that midcentury, The Dick Van Dyke Show style.

But, speaking of tight clamdiggers and toreador pants, Emily Giaque Evans is simply amazing as Lola, the seductress from Hell with a heart of gold. She's compact, curvy, muscular, intimidating, and sweetly vulnerable all at once, and she dances like a fiend. The script only lets Lola be a really bad girl for one or two numbers, and I wish Evans had been just that much badder -- but I guess if she were, she'd be Gwen Verdon or Bebe Neuwirth, each of whom nailed the part on Broadway, and we can't all be them. Sigh.

Kate E. Cook, as ace sports journalist Gloria Thorpe, seems way more womanly that the 19 years her program bio gives her credit for, and she's statuesque and very bendy in her own sassy dance solos. Thorpe throws some spanners in the works of the plot, and Cook makes it hard to believe she could ever be that callous, but it doesn't make all that much sense to begin with, so it might not be an actor problem.


Location Info

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Hale Centre Theatre

50 W. Page Ave., Gilbert, AZ

Category: General


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