SALEM - Just in time, just as sure as spring opening season, comes Salem Community Theatre's offering of "Damn Yankees," music and lyrics written by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.
This baseball classic of wanting a winning season with a dash of devilishly funny and clever intervention is a perennial family favorite. Directed by Mark Frost, "Damn Yankees" begins with a sharp start, characters Joe and Meg Boyd, both irritated by baseball, but from polar opposite viewpoints. Enter Mr. Applegate, as the devil himself with Lola his muse, set to convince Joe and the audience that all is fair in the name of baseball.
Julie Benner as Meg was convincing as a woman widowed during the baseball season, showing her frustration through presence and humility. Joe Boyd played by Dave Wolford was eager to make the deal with Applegate, played by Tom O'Donnell.
Mr. O'Donnell was given the juiciest role of the production, but fell just shy of committing completely to the role. Lola as played by Joanna Andrei was spot on as the vamp with a heart. Her sultry layers balanced nicely with the sweetness of being generous to her fellow actors.
Joe Hardy, played by Roger Gaskins left the audience wanting more. Musicals are difficult to do typically, and strength in vocal ability is needed for a lead role. Having a bandaged hand as a star ball player was also unfortunate.
Gloria the new sportswriter was a bright spot, and propelled the story onward nicely by Jackie Stevens.
Players Smokey and Rocky were a treat to watch. Smokey by Eric Kibler, was just dense enough but with impeccable timing, it allowed his true talent to shine.
Donny Wolford as Rocky was hilarious talking and singing about girls, baseball and the like. This kid will go far, watch for him. Ruth Newman is also one to be watched, as her role as Sister was spot on. Michael Dempsey as Van Buren as the manager of the Washington Senators could have been a stronger presence with internal strength.
As for the rest of the cast and chorus, they completed the needed backdrop to the entire feel of the play. The children in the section of "We Love Joe" fan club were especially funny and endearing.
As for the orchestra, it was nice and snappy, on time and on point. The sets and lighting were also quality, something I have come to expect from SCT.
The technical components the night of production were a little off, but mostly correct. What production hasn't struggled with a non-compliant scrim?! Choreography was well rehearsed and comical, especially the final number in "Who's Got the Pain?"
The Salem Community Theatre's production of "Damn Yankees" is a fun musical that all audience members can enjoy. If baseball is your thing, and a good time can be had, go to see this play.
The show runs today through Sunday. Call the box office for seating and times at 330-332-9688.