“You gotta’ have heart,” is the theme of Herndon High School’s musical this year. “Damn Yankees” is sure to be Herndon’s biggest and most energetic show yet, with a cast of more than 50 people, huge dance numbers and fun, lively characters.
Rehearsals started at the beginning of February, and the motto for all the cast and crew is truly that you gotta’ have heart! Initial rehearsals were for the blocking and practicing of all the straight scenes, led by the show’s director, and the leader of HHS Theatre, Sarah Bever. Intertwined with the dramatic rehearsals came vocal rehearsals, in which all of the songs were taught. All vocal training was led by Dana Vanslyke, leader of HHS Choir.
“At first, rehearsals were tricky,” said Stage Manger Kate Klipfel. “But then again, that’s how they always feel — the whole experience is just so fun because it truly is a learning experience for everyone in the cast. We all grow so much together; it’s such an awesome feeling when all your hard work pays off and you finally have a show!”
Soon after songs and scenes had been taught, the cast was introduced to Kristen Fiesele, the show’s choreographer. Kristen, who also organized the blocking for “Footloose” in 2003, took on a huge responsibility — teaching the entire cast fun and energetic dance steps to numbers such as “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal Mo,” “Two Lost Souls” and, of course, “You Gotta’ Have Heart!”
“Kristen was a great choreographer,” said Tyler Andere, who plays Van Buren. “She helped us all so much by being so patient and really explaining the steps to us. Thanks to her, we now have huge, fun dances that the audience will love. I can hardly wait to show them off!”
The main roles in “Damn Yankees” are double cast this year, a feat not undertaken since “Into the Woods” in 2004. The show centers on the Washington Senators in the 1930s, a team which has a whole bunch of heart…and not a whole lot of talent. Then comes along Applegate, (Thomas Jones/Bexar Drake), the devil, who makes a deal with Old Joe (Dustin Vandenberg), to trade his soul in order to accomplish his life-long dream of becoming a famous baseball player and playing for the Senators…even if that does mean leaving his loving wife, Meg (Jordan Garegnani/Katie Loughnane). Old Joe is changed into Joe Hardy (Alex Dobbs/David Miranda), a dashing, young baseball player who is the greatest thing this town has ever seen. Soon, of course, enters Lola (Andrea Hepfinger/Sarah Rubard), the gorgeous temptress hired by Applegate to lead Joe astray. Gloria Thorpe (Sarah McGrath/Emma Jasper), is a nosy reporter who knows that there’s something fishy about the town’s new star, Joe Hardy. Along with the rest of the baseball team, the townspeople and the spectators, this cast is sure to provide an amazing show; full of talent, fun and….you got it….HEART!