Entertainment

Damn Yankees slide into Garden City

John Law

By John Law, Niagara Falls Review

Wendy Leard directs and choreographs the classic musical Damn Yankees for Garden City Productions, opening Friday. PHOTO: John Law / Niagara Falls Review

Wendy Leard directs and choreographs the classic musical Damn Yankees for Garden City Productions, opening Friday. PHOTO: John Law / Niagara Falls Review

The World Series is over, but the ol' ball game goes on at Garden City Productions.

Damn Yankees, a phrase heard in Cleveland a lot this October, will throw out the first pitch of the 61st season Nov. 17. It'll be the first crack at the 1955 Broadway classic for the St. Catharines company, and for director Wendy Leard.

For longtime Garden City patrons, it'll feel like a comfortable old baseball glove: Lots of laughs, lots of music, and the feeling only those old Broadway giants can create.

The list of classics Garden City hasn't done at least once is getting whittled down.

“Some of the new shows coming out are so complicated in their staging and technical work,” says Leard, who started with the company in the early '70s. “It will be interesting to see where we go from here.

“But there's still good shows. I mean, Damn Yankees is such a good show.”

With music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, the show is a comedic retelling of the Faust legend, about a long-suffering fan of the Washington Senators who makes a deal with the devil for his team to finally beat the dreaded New York Yankees for the pennant. He's made an offer to transform into a young slugger named Joe Hardy for the Senators, but if he accepts he must leave his wife.

He insists on an asterisk, however: He can return to his normal life if he doesn't play in the last game of the season. If he plays, he'll stay as Joe Hardy forever.

The show won seven Tony Awards in 1957, including Best Musical. It was revived on Broadway in 1994 and in London in 1997.

The 1958 film version starred Tab Hunter and Gwen Verdon, and featured a young uncredited Bob Fosse. A modern version was discussed in 2009 with Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal, but never transpired.

Garden City's version stars Richard Nester (Joe), Kate Profijt (Meg) and Zach Schwartz (Joe). Rounding out the cast is Paul Wintemute, Chelsea Di Franco, Stephanie Menicanin, Alison Stunt, Glen McCann, Dayna Harold, Joshua Werhun, Alfred Stockwell and Brian DiMartile.

“A lot of music, a lot of choreography in this show,” says Leard. “Really big numbers, which are so much fun. You've Gotta Have Heart, Whatever Lola Wants...songs that are classics, but people don't really understand what show they came from.”

jlaw@postmedia.com

  • What: Damn Yankees
  • Where: Mandeville Theatre – Ridley College; 2 Ridley Road; St. Catharines
  • When: Nov. 17 to Dec. 3
  • Tickets: $28 adults, $23 students www.gcp.ca