STAGE REVIEW 'Yankees' scores big hit at Packard

The entire company played as a closely knit team.
WARREN -- A bit of dallying with the devil can be a dangerous things. One strike and you're probably out. But when you mix the devil in with a fanatical baseball fan, somebody's bound to hit a foul ball.
In "Damn Yankees," presented Thursday night by the Warren Civic Music Association at W.D. Packard Auditorium, it's just a question of who will hit that foul -- the devil, who almost always hits a home run, or the beleaguered and bewildered die-hard Washington Senators' fan, Joe Boyd. No doubt about it, though, this performance was a veritable grand slam. The entire company joined together as a closely knit team to make for a thoroughly enjoyable performance.
Joe Boyd is a barely successful upper middle-aged real estate agent couch potato who is oblivious to anything but baseball, and more importantly, the Washington Senators. Unbeknownst to him, he also (or at least his soul) is the object of interest of one Mr. Applegate, a k a Lucifer or the devil.
Applegate pitches a deal to Boyd: In exchange for his soul, Boyd will be transformed into the Senators' golden boy to lead the team on to victory and the pennant. After some preliminary questions and inserting a clause or two of his own into the contract (after all, he is in real estate) Boyd agrees, and the adventure begins.
Of course, the devil has a curveball in his repertoire. In fact, quite a few curves in the form of Lola, a femme fatale in his employ to help make sure that Joe loses in this bargain.
Hounded by the media and his fans, Joe begins learning a few things about himself that aren't very pretty and result in the musical's final conflict between good and evil.
Cast: W. Brad Wages starred as Applegate, giving a stellar performance with a high level of energy the entire evening. Every bit his equal was Jill Godfrey as Lola.
Stellar performances also were given by Nick Darrow as Joe Hardy, Burt Adams as Joe Boyd and Melissa Swenson as Boyd's long-suffering wife, Meg.
The rest of the company turned in excellent performances as well, moving smoothly between various roles as players, reporters, wives and fans.
Also of extra-high quality was the musicianship of the company as they belted out familiar standards such as "Six Months Out of Every Year," "Heart," "A Man Doesn't Know," "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets" and "Near to You," among others.
Choreography was outstanding, making full use of the company's talents and the entire stage.

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