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High School Troupes Score Hits With Classic Shows

Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page PW03

'Damn Yankees' Woodbridge High

The score is 10-0. The team at bat is the Washington Senators, and they're losing to the New York Yankees . . . again. The game is being played in Woodbridge High School's production of "Damn Yankees."

The musical, set in the 1950s, is the story of Joe Boyd's rise to fame and the Senators' rise out of the cellar. Joe (Wesley Lovell) is a longtime Senators enthusiast who's exhausted by their losing streak. After claiming that he'd give his soul to the devil if the Senators could beat the Yankees, a wicked stranger named Applegate shows up to see how far Joe will go to fulfill his wish.

Above and at left, cast members in Woodbridge High's production of "Damn Yankees." The musical, set in the 1950s, is about a Washington Senators fan who sells his soul to the devil in order to beat the hated New York Yankees. (Photos Courtesy Woodbridge High School)

Once Joe has realized his dream to play with the Senators, he begins to appreciate his former life. He must then fight temptations and the clock to return to his old self.

Winning performances included those of Meg Boyd (Margie Mills), who had one of the purest voices and the most convincing presence. As Joe Hardy (Joe Boyd's power-hitting alter ego), John Stauffer proved his character's love for the game and his wife, and sang well regardless of the range of notes. Applegate (Billy Rossiter) was appropriately funny and scary. And Julie Sowers, as Lola, also gave a clean performance, especially in "Whatever Lola Wants," which brought gasps from the audience during a minor striptease.

One of the show's strengths was the ensemble dances. If you ever thought boys couldn't dance and sing, the Ballplayers would prove you wrong. "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo." and "The Game" were both comical and superbly coordinated numbers. "Two Lost Souls," featuring almost the entire cast, consisted of cartwheels and flips and also was notable.

The minimal set used the large stage well. Differences in the numerous settings were always sufficient and curtain adjustments helped shrink the space as necessary.

Careful attention was put into the period costumes and makeup. The teams' colors were almost exclusively used throughout the show. And accenting details, such as Lola's red nail polish, made each character's role more convincing.

The cast as a whole did their best to hit home runs, and for the most part, won the show.

Naomi Brodkey

H-B Woodlawn

One, two, three strikes! You're out for a night of temptation and the great American game. In the spirit of Nationals baseball, Woodbridge High School performed the musical "Damn Yankees," a show for which all Washington baseball fans should hold a special place in their hearts.

Joe Boyd (Wesley Lovell) is your average middle-age man: disillusioned, unsatisfied, nostalgic, yearning for a dream that only the devil himself can grant. And that's exactly what happens. Before Joe can sing another number about the great American pastime, the devilish Applegate (Billy Rossiter) offers a deal Joe can't refuse. In exchange for his soul, over-the-hill Joe Boyd is transformed into the athletically talented Joe Hardy (John Stauffer).

Now Joe may be a man whose soul is on the line, but he's still a man with a mission. He plans to guide the Washington Senators to a victory over their rivals, the New York Yankees.

Joe Hardy is the 22-year-old version of Joe Boyd. He is the wistful dream come true, the almighty fulfillment, and Stauffer conveys the vigor which his character embodies. Stauffer's Hardy maintains a strong connection to whomever he is in contact with, be it Applegate, Meg Boyd (Margie Mills) or the temptress Lola (Julie Sowers). In particular instances, though, the chemistry shines more than ever. The duet "Near to You," featuring Stauffer and Mills, achieved its sentimental note, and "Two Lost Souls," sung by Sowers and Rossiter, mixed devilishly thrilling moments with an entrancing dance number.

Sowers captivated the audience with her imaginative dancing and spicy singing, particularly during "Whatever Lola Wants."

The technical aspects of the showwere effective despite a few errors. Red and purple lights would flash when symbolizing Applegate's magic at work, and a silhouette of a large, outspread oak tree was the background for park scenes.

The most remarkable feature of the production was the ensemble of ballplayers. All members of the team worked together to create believable camaraderie and brotherly love. Each player was unique, and yet the actors worked well as a whole unit. In "The Game," the ensemble harmonized beautifully together and maintained its energy level, giving the show a little extra power.

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks might complement the game of baseball, but after watching "Damn Yankees" you'll know one thing for sure: Every game needs a little "Heart."

Sara Aultman


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