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Talent and energy score a hit in ‘Damn Yankees’

SHARE Talent and energy score a hit in ‘Damn Yankees’

DAMN YANKEES, Salt Lake Community College Grand Theatre, 1575 S. State; Mondays-Fridays, 7:30 p.m., Saturdays, 2 & 7:30 p.m., through Feb. 6; directed by Richard Scott; choreographed by Alan LaFleur. All seats reserved. Tickets: $4 to $13. Box office: 957-3322. Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (one intermission).

Talk about teamwork. If the downtrodden Washington Senators had the amount of talent and energy built into the baseball team as Richard Scott's ensemble (both on stage and off), the Yankees would have been left in the dust.The Grand Theatre hits a well-aimed home-run with this mid-1950s Broadway smash. To paraphrase what Lola (vivacious Stephanie Frogley) purrs seductively during Act 1, this group has quite a bit more than just "a little talent."

Josh Christensen, who has an incredible voice and a commanding stage presence, is perfectly cast as "Shoeless Joe" Hardy. (If the Grand hasn't cast Billy Bigelow yet in its upcoming production of "Carousel," Christensen should be at the top of their list.)

James A. Dale has a deliciously devilish time as Mr. Applegate, with blond-wigged Jayne Luke as snoopy journalist Gloria Thorpe, kicking up her heels in a couple of big numbers, and Linda Jean Stephenson and Maxine P. Summers stealing more scenes than the Yankees do bases as the hilariously ditzy Sister and Doris.

Other standouts are Nick Cash as the Senators' frustrated coach, Benny Van Buren; Tomy Josef as Eddie (who dances up a storm with Lola in the sizzling "Who's Got the Pain" mambo), and Doug Dansie, Jacob Johnson and a third unidentified player harmonizing nicely in "(You've Gotta Have) Heart," another of this energetic show's many show-stoppers.

Diane Rosser Nebeker, as "old" Joe Boyd's neglected wife, Meg, delivers some nice solo and duet work, and Jeff Beck has the show's "bookend" role as her husband. (In a bit of flashy theatrical special effects, the fanatical Washington Senators' fan -- after selling his soul to the devil -- is instantly changed into athletic and handsome Joe Hardy.)

The score (by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross) includes such gems as the sensuous "Whatever Lola Wants," Applegate's jaunty "Those Were the Good Old Days" (" . . . I remember the morn when Jack the Ripper was born . . . "), several wives lamenting "Six Months Out of Every Year" (when their husbands are glued to the TV sets), the Senators' energetic renditions of "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo." and "The Game" and a few sweet ballads.

With stylishly "retro" costuming by Jennilyn Brockbank (Doris and Sister's attire defies description in mere black-and-white words); snappy choreography by Alan LaFleur, fine scenery by J.Chad Davis, well-honed music direction by Jay Gunderson, sound by Michael Klint, lighting by Brian Jurena and '50s hair-dos by Marie Kenyon, "Damn Yankees" is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.

The only things missing are hot dogs and Cracker Jacks.