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Paul VI Stages 'Damn Yankees'

Fall musical features real baseball players singing and dancing.

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From left, Brian Carroll, Mike Beda and Jake Miller rehearse for ‘Damn Yankees.’

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Seductress Lola played by Dana Lindblad and the devil Mr. Applegate played by Jason Donahoe rehearse together.

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Patrick McDonald as the role of Joe Hardy rehearses with Michael Kruczkowski who plays the baseball manager Van Buren.

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From left are Adam Laub, Alexandra Dent and Dan Browne in ‘Damn Yankees.’

Paul VI drama director Katherine Miller wanted Patrick McDonald to play the lead role of Joe Hardy in their fall production of "Damn Yankees" on Nov. 21-23.

Because Patrick pitches for the defending state champions baseball team in the spring and is a great singer, she switched the musical to the fall to accommodate his schedule. Plus, she needed more boys to be in the cast.

"I knew he's a very good singer," said Miller. "He's also a resident baseball expert."

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MILLER'S CHALLENGE </b>as a director was organizing the large cast. "If you get them all in one room, they start escaping through the holes," she said. But she said there were no Divas in the bunch, and they all have a great sense of humor and are dedicated to the production.

"Damn Yankees" is the story of middle-aged Washington Senators’ fan Joe Boyd, who sells his soul to the devil for a chance at the pennant. As part of the bargain, the devil changes Joe into a young baseball player and gets him a slot on the Senators’ team. The devil’s plan is to use Joe to take the Senators to the championship and then make them lose, plunging the fans into misery and gaining Joe’s soul in the process. However, he doesn’t reckon with Joe’s devotion to his wife, which allows him to withstand even the advances of Lola, and in the end, saves his soul.

The score includes such favorites as “You Gotta Have Heart,” “Whatever Lola Wants,” “Two Lost Souls,” and the devil’s comic lament “The Good Old Days.”

"I made a deal with [the devil] that I could go back to the way I was before," said Patrick McDonald, 18, of Herndon. Because he doesn't have a lot of acting experience, he said the hard part was "getting into the whole theater thing. It's a lot of work." But he enjoys the singing ("That's really what I love to do," he said), and rehearsing with the cast, who are all friends.

Tommy Hodge, 15, of Vienna, plays Joe Boyd, the alter-ego of McDonald, as a middle-aged man who sells his soul to the devil to become Joe Hardy, his younger self. "He's basically the ultimate baseball player," said Hodge, who enjoys the challenge of singing on stage. "What's fun about it is I get to hang out with my friends and also I like doing it because I love theater."

Jason Donahoe, 17, of Burke, plays the maniacal devil, Mr. Applegate, who gets a kick out of ruining lives. “It's a big change from my own personality and it's something out of the ordinary for me because I like to think of myself as a nice guy," said Donahoe. He has one solo singing part and is comfortable singing on stage.

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SENIOR DANA LINDBLAD, </b>17, of Falls Church plays the devil's seductress Lola. "I'm a very shy person and Lola is making me come out of my shell," she said of her character's penchant for convincing men to leave their wives. She said her challenge is to express that emotion physically on stage.

Alexandra Dent, 16, of Woodbridge, has been involved in six productions. She plays the independent-minded Gloria Thorpe, who has a boisterous personality. "What's really fun is Mrs. Miller tells me to use my size to my advantage because I'm so much shorter than everybody else," Alexandra said.

Michael Kruczkowski, 16, of Chantilly plays the baseball manager Van Buren. "My character is an older gentleman who really cares about the team and wants them to do well," he said. "It's a lot of fun because I have a lot of power and I get to assert myself."

Junior Allison Heinz, 16, of Chantilly plays Meg Boyd, the wife of Joe Boyd. Because the character is in her 50s, it's a challenge for her to make the character come through and clear. "It's a totally different experience because this is my first main part," she said.

Sophomore Jake Miller, 15, of Herndon plays Rocky, one of the baseball players. "He's sort of like the leader of the team but at the same time he's kind of detached," said Miller.

Dan Browne, 16, of Clifton, plays Sohovik, a sensitive baseball player who has a crush on Gloria Thorpe. "I love having fun on stage, especially during the song, 'Shoeless Joe,'" he said. "We all go all out and put our hearts in it, and that's fun for me," he said. Browne has been involved in seven plays as a tekkie, but this is his first acting role.

Senior Sarah Patin, 17, of Reston, plays the grumpy and crotchety, old postmaster. She said she enjoys getting to be someone else for a while. "It's fun to be someone completely different," she said.

Junior Bethany Sansaver, 16, of Annandale, plays a baseball player and a housewife. "I get to learn how to act like a guy, which is really fun," she said, "basically, to be one of the boys."

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PROFESSIONAL, </b>real-life actor Jakob Stalnaker, 14, of Warrenton, plays Smokey the baseball player who likes to do crossword puzzles. "He's not smart because he's always asking for help on the crossword puzzles," said Stalnaker. "But some of his lines get a lot of laughs."

The Paul VI Players are staging "Damn Yankees" Nov. 21-22 at 7:30 p.m.; and Nov. 23 at 2 p.m. at Paul VI Catholic High School. Tickets are $8/students and seniors, and $13 at the door. Discounts are available for advance purchase; family rates are available. Visit PVIProducers@yahoo.com for more information, or call 703-352-0925, x524.