Paul VI Catholic High School
What does it take to make it to the top? Lots of practice? "A Little Brains, A Little Talent"? Whatever the recipe for success is, the Washington Senators in Bishop Ireton's Damn Yankees make one thing for sure: "You got to have heart."
Damn Yankees is a musical with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, music by Richard Adler and lyrics by Jerry Ross. It originally opened on Broadway on May 5th, 1955 at the 46th Street Theatre. It is based on Douglass Wallop's novel, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant. Middle-aged, die-hard Senators fan Joe Boyd is so upset that his team keeps losing that he proclaims he would sell his soul to make them win. And he ends up doing just that. After making a deal with Applegate, who is the devil in disguise, he becomes Joe Hardy, a 22-year-old baseball player, and goes on a mission to play for his beloved team and get them a victory.
The most outstanding parts of this show were the ensemble of baseball players and the choreography. The Washington Senators were always delightful to watch with their high energy and often humorous interactions. They played off each other very well and were wonderfully cohesive, yet each managed to shine in their own way, especially in the audience-favorite number "The Game." A quartet of the Senators (Kevin McNerney, Ronie Gabriel Altejar, Alek Rodriguez, and Nick Ward) proved that they had some solid vocal chops as well in the show's iconic song, "Heart." Their harmonies blended perfectly and they truly embodied what they were singing about. There were several student choreographers for this show (Gabby Baniqued, Caroline Gant, and Anna Johnson) which sounds like a bit of a risk, but they proved that it was a wonderful one to take. It was clear in dance numbers such as "Who's Got the Pain?" and "Two Lost Souls" that each choreographer did an extensive amount of research into classic Broadway choreography. Each dance had the perfect amount of energy and polish.
The most impressive technical element of the show was costumes. Bishop Ireton's costuming class made 109 costume pieces for the show! The class deeply researched typical fashion of the 1950's and created both aesthetically pleasing and historically accurate ensembles. Their recreation of Senators uniforms was so good that if someone didn't know it, they would've thought they managed to obtain the actual uniforms from the 50's. There were some very nice small details in the costumes such as in the opening number "Six Months Out of Every Year" when each housewife's apron matched her husband's tie. The quirky, elderly Miller Sisters wore dresses with loud, younger-looking patterns to match their personalities. A student with jewelry-making experience made Joe and Meg Boyd's wedding rings which added a nice, personal touch.
Overall, the students involved with Bishop Ireton's Damn Yankees perfectly blended each of their unique talents together. Every aspect of the show blended well together and indeed, made for a show with "Miles and miles and miles of heart."
Paul VI Catholic High School
All the Washington Senators needed was one long ball hitter; just one player to give them an edge over those Damn Yankees.
Set in the 1950s, Damn Yankees is a comedic musical based on the old Faust legend. Passionate baseball fan, Joe Boyd, desperately wants the Washington Senators to beat the Yankees. Taking matters into his own hands, Joe makes a deal with the Devil. Joe becomes the player that leads the Senators to victory. However, he soon realizes the consequences of making a deal with The Old Boy and tries to get out of the contract. Damn Yankees is a musical filled with the American favorites: baseball, comedy, and just a hint of romance.
Bishop Ireton's production of Damn Yankees was filled with amazing vocalists, stand out ensemble members, and contagious enthusiasm. Every scene was performed with an obvious commitment from every member of the cast. The ensemble, especially, had never ending energy and charisma. In numbers such as "The Game" and "Heart", the ensemble really shined. They were able to keep in character while facing both choreography and vocals, resulting in a very memorable and impressive performance. One ensemble member particularly constantly drew the audience's eye. Alek Rodriguez, was extremely fun to watch. He had hilarious facial expressions and impeccable comedic timing. Rodriguez had obvious heart and never failed to entertain.
Joshua Lamb bravely took on the lead role of Joe Hardy. Lamb grew stronger throughout the production, ending with a performance worthy of a standing ovation. He worked well with all his fellow cast members. Lamb's interactions with Lola, played by the talented, Gabby Baniqued, were particularly stellar. In "Whatever Lola Wants", the pair had the audience in palls of laughter. Baniqued played a hilarious seductress, while Lamb desperately tried to resist her temptations. Altogether, they flattered each other's strengths and really worked well together.
Ireton's performance overflowed with strong vocalists. However, one person really stood out among the cast of singers. Natalie Turkevich played the wife, Meg Boyd. Turkevich's voice was solid from the very opening number, and stayed consistent throughout. As well as being an amazing soloist, Turkevich's voice harmonized extremely well in whole cast numbers. Her voice remained unswerving even at the hardest notes, when others might have fallen a little flat. The song "Near to You" showcased her beautiful voice especially well.
One element that should not go without notice is the costumes. The costuming department created almost all the outfits worn in the show, right down to the players' boxers! They put in obvious thought into everyone's character to make a costume fitted for each. The amount of detail put into each component of the costumes, is extremely noteworthy. One of their most notable costumes was Lola's tear away skirt. It added to the seductress act and was altogether a great feature in the scene.
Bishop Ireton's production of Damn Yankees was a hilarious take on the old Faust legend. Anchored by an incredibly entertaining ensemble cast and filled with awesome vocalists, Bishop Ireton hit this one out of the ballpark.