Damn Yankees at the Mac-Haydn Theatre
A show both rollicking and precise began the season at the Mac-Haydn Theatre in Chatham, New York. Among several accomplished performances, Corrinne Tork as Lola connected the threads of the play into the real thing and raised her performance to an expression of kindness. Damn Yankees purports to be a play about baseball, but it is really a soul-searching adventure. Baseball is only a tangental part of the action, although the writer does allow a victory for all at the end. What really mattered and what really played as if it mattered, was the progress the major characters taught themselves. Ms. Tork was able to accomplish any kind of theatrical activity—she sang expressively, she danced beautifully. In different roles she found a complete identity which convinced. Another wonderful performance was given by Michael Brennan as young Joe Hardy. He gave us just the right amount of innocence and taught himself how to live, is so doing. This takes great skill on stage. The accomplished Mark Hardy as Applegate (the devil) overplayed his role just enough to keep it humorous. We never really worried about the outcome.
There was first-rate dancing from the troupe. The choreography, by Bryan Knowlton, was seemingly effortless, a real achievement this early in the summer. At times the old musical seemed a bit long, but this was in no way the fault of the actors. Every action was clear. Music director David Maglione made terrific use of his small band and was the energy of the performance. Clearly the troupe is headed for a first-rate season.