At a time when the Washington Nationals aren’t doing as well as a fan might hope, Hayfield Secondary School’s production of "Damn Yankees" presents a storyline that is awfully tempting. The Washington Senators' super-fan, Joe Boyd (Chris Frakes) agrees to sell his soul (albeit with an escape clause) to the devil Mr. Applegate (Robbie Mack), in exchange for becoming the young and powerful slugger Joe Hardy (Mark Rascati). In the process, Joe must leave his wife Meg (Aubrey Meeks) and his life behind to bring the Senators to greatness.
As he is slowly discovered and brought to fame and baseball glory, Joe’s sadness and homesickness overwhelm him. Afraid of losing the deal he made with Joe, Mr. Applegate sends in a homewrecker, Lola (Kate Drackeley) to seduce Joe. What happens from there is for the audience to find out.
The best part of Hayfield’s production was the ensemble work. The baseball team, held together by notable characters Smokey (Nathan Brown) and Benny Van Buren the manager (played entertainingly by Marcus Clarke), was engaging and adorable to watch. They sang some of the show's best numbers ("Heart") and presented incredible tap-dancing skills.
Also memorable in the show was the work done by Ariel Shine, playing Gloria Thorpe the reporter who helps uncover the truth of Joe Hardy’s past. Shine was sassy, sweet and feisty enough to play with the boys while feminine enough to be seen as a lady. Among the few lead women, Thorpe shone, along with Meeks with a strong singing voice, and ArDonna Hamilton, who played Doris, a friend of Meg’s and a well-defined character. Mack, playing the devil Mr. Applegate, lit up the stage in every scene. His presence, his timing and his physical mannerisms brought the witty side of the devil to life.
On the technical side, costumes were colorful and engaging. Props were timely, created by Mary Ellen Martelli. The orchestra was peppy and neither too loud nor too soft. Despite sound issues and often dark spots on stage, the cast overcame these issues to present an overall solid show, with often surprising moments of true talent and dance skill.
"Damn Yankees" is a fun show with an incredibly funny script. The music is varied and the dancing is entertaining. Hayfield did a remarkable job of carrying the feeling of the American spirit in this show throughout the production, and kept the audience engaged and attentive. Even for a Yankees fan, this show is worth seeing.