Damn Yankees with the Unforgettable Ray Walston, Tab Hunter, Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse
The show opened on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre on May 5, 1955, transferred to the Adelphi Theatre on May 17, 1957, and ran for a total of 1,019 performances. It was directed by George Abbott, with scenery and costumes by William and Jean Eckart, dances and musical numbers staged by Fosse, musical direction by Hal Hastings, orchestrations by Don Walker, and dance music arrangements by Roger Adams.
The show starred Ray Walston (Applegate), Verdon (Lola), Shannon Bolin (Meg), Robert Shafer (Joe Boyd), Elizabeth Howell (Doris), Stephen Douglass (Joe Hardy), Al Lanti (Henry), Eddie Phillips (Sohovik), Nathaniel Frey (Smokey), Albert Linville (Vernon, Postmaster), Russ Brown (Van Buren), Jimmy Komack (Rocky), Rae Allen (Gloria), Cherry Davis (Teenager), Del Horstmann (Lynch, Commissioner), Richard Bishop (Welch), Janie Janvier (Miss Weston), and Jean Stapleton (Sister).
"Damn Yankees" is the story of a middle-aged baseball fan named Joe who sells his soul to the devil to become a great young player who can help his team, the Washington Senators, win the championship. But when Joe misses his wife and wants out of the agreement, the devil sends in Lola - Gwen Verdon, of course - whose motto is whatever Lola wants, Lola gets. But instead of seducing Joe, she falls in love with him. Pd
Most of the original Broadway cast joined Verdon in the film, though Broadway's original Joe was replaced by teen idol Tab Hunter, who's not much of an actor here, although his sincerity is touching. Verdon's comic Spanish accent and cartoonish Fosse strip tease make the song more a parody of a seduction—Lola, singing “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets. And, little man, little Lola wants you. Make up your mind no regrets. Recline yourself. Resign yourself. You're through. I always get...”
The devil, called Mr. Applegate, is played by the sly Ray Walston, probably best known for playing the title role in the '60s TV show "My Favorite Martian." In the movie, as in the show, his big solo is a parody of an old-time vaudeville number, "Those Were The Good Old Days," in which he celebrates some of the world's worst atrocities. As Mr. Applegate, singing I see cannibals munchin' a missionary luncheon. Years may have flown off, but the memory stays, like the hopes that were dashed when the stock market crashed. Yeah, those were the good old days. I'd walk a million miles or more for some of the gore of those good old days. Before the Broadway opening of "Damn Yankees," the producers decide to cut a big production number, which enrages Fosse. But when Adler comes up with a new tune, he lights up. It's called "Who's Got The Pain." And it pokes fun at the grunting noises that come with the latest dance craze, the mambo. Pinterest image source npr.org
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