Words and Music by Richard Adler & Jerry Ross
Book by George Abbott & Douglas Wallop
Landor Theatre, 70 Landor Road, London SW9 9PH
Tues-Sat 7.30pm Mar Sat & Sun 3pm
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval. To 08 11 14.
TICKETS: 0207 737 7276
Review: William Russell 7 October
A home run hit by any standards.
Robert McWhir’s production of this hoary old show about baseball – the devil comes to take up the offer of Joe Hardy, an elderly fan, of his soul if only the Washington Senators could beat the New York Yankees – could hardly be bettered. It fizzes with energy, the wattage being upped by some truly electrifying dancing from the baseball players choreographed by Robbie O’Reilly.
Alex Lodge, who plays the young Joe, blessed with the bluest eyes ever, can sing and carries the part off with great aplomb. It’s very strongly cast throughout. As Mr Applegate, the devil in disguise, Jonathan D Ellis camps up a storm. It is always open to whoever gets the part how to play it and Mr Ellis has opted to be a high camp bitter old queen which works pretty well, although it is not a particularly original approach and the performance gets a bit predictable as the night goes on. He does, however, rise brilliantly and with terrific panache to the challenge of his big number in Act 2 lamenting The Good Old Days like The Hundred Years War.
As Lola, the temptress from Hell whom he summons to stop Joe from reneging on their deal – Joe actually loves his wife more than he loves baseball – the gorgeous Poppy Tierney swivels her hips, flutters her mascara laden eye lashes and vamps like mad.
But it really is those boy dancers who carry the evening, baring not quite their all, but quite a lot of it, in their dressing room routines celebrating the arrival of the saviour of the Senators – Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO. The back flips and summersaults by the diminutive Kiel Payton quite take one’s breath away. You don’t just need Heart, you gotta have nerve.
The problem with the Damn Yankees is that the best numbers are all in Act One, for non Americans caring about baseball does not comes easy, while devil’s double dealing in Act Two is so predictable that one never really doubts Joe will get back to Meg, the nice little middle aged wife he has abandoned back in Missouri, a delightful Nova Skipp. However we whirr through it all at such speed that they hardly matter.
Joe Hardy: Alex Lodge
Lola: Poppy Tierney
Mr Applegate: Jonathan D Ellis
Joe Boyd: Gary Bland
Meg: Nova Skipp
Benny van Buren: Tony Stansfield
Gloria: Elizabeth Futter
Doris: Leah Pinney
Miss Weston/Girl: Kayleigh Thadani
Sister: Sophie May Whitfield
Assistant/2nd Girl: Emily Wigley
Sabovik: Samson Ajewole
Smokey: Joel Burman
Mickey/Eddie: Douglas Fanning
Vernon: Barnaby Hughes
Mark/Lynch: Sam Lathwood
Henry/Hearn: Kiel Payton
Rocky: Ben Sell
Linville/Postmaster: Sam Stones
Iowe: Christopher Tendal
Director: Robert McWhir
Musical Director: Michael Webborn
Choreographer: Robbie O’Reilly
Lighting Design: Richard Lambert
Assistant Lighting Design: Matty Guarino