Anyone who’s been a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies these past few years understands the heartbreak of watching a favorite team lose…over and over again. But how many would trade everything – their wife, home and soul – to the devil in order to ensure a win?
This major risk, and the downward spiral of events that follows, is the central focus of the hit musical Damn Yankees, which will be presented by the Bensalem High School Drama Club from Feb. 20-22.
The comedy focuses on middle-aged Joe Boyd, a perpetually frustrated fan of the Washington Senators, who makes a pact with the mysterious Mr. Applegate to guarantee a victory over the Yankees in the pennant race.
Applegate offers him the opportunity to transform into Joe Hardy, a star baseball player that can save the Senators. The only catch? If he plays in the Senators’ final game of the season, he’ll be forced to remain Joe Hardy forever, and never see his wife Meg again. Joe only has until 9 p.m. the night before the game to decide his ultimate fate.
When The Times stopped by a final rehearsal session on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 12, Drama Club advisors Raegan Ruiz and Josh Albert were hard at work putting the finishing touches on lighting and the overall timing of the show.
According to Ruiz, Damn Yankees was selected this year as a contrast to the Drama Club’s previous two productions – The Sound of Music in 2018 and Cinderella in 2019 – both of which are Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals.
“This year’s show has a completely different feel in terms of the story and the music, and also includes more dancing. Additionally, we have a strong group of men to play the various baseball players,” Ruiz explained. “The students in our community reflect the best attributes of young people today – dedication, perseverance and creativity. These students make beautiful artistic choices on and off the stage on a daily basis. Understanding these characters and interpreting their motivation has been an exciting challenge for many students.”
Moments into the rehearsal, Ruiz’s sentiment proved to be true – these students have talent, and every cast member was at the top of their game, even after a full day of school.
The show features students Aaron Harris and Doug Dixey in the leading role of Joe Boyd, and Jessica Angelitis as his wife Meg. All boasted unprecedentedly strong vocals and a powerful stage presence…and this was just during practice.
Two teens to look out for are Leah McGonigal, who plays reporter Gloria Thorpe, and Ian Bustard as Van Buren. Both have exceptionally pleasing voices and flawless comedic timing, with their standout numbers “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo” and “Heart,” respectively, serving as some of the most memorable points in the show.
Additionally, the ensemble of Senators perfectly executes enjoyable, high-energy dance numbers (baseball bats included), which adds to the overall caliber of the show.
So why should the community get tickets? Ruiz’s answer was simple.
“The show is about baseball, America’s favorite pastime,” she said. “We all know how it feels to root for the losing team. How far can/should one go to get what he/she wants? How far is too far?”
If you go: Damn Yankees is on stage at Bensalem High School Auditorium, located at 4319 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem, on Thursday, Feb. 20, Friday, Feb. 21 and Saturday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. There is also a Saturday matinee at 1 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the evening shows, and $5 for the matinee. Order tickets at bensalemsd-bhs.edlioschool.com/apps/pages/DamnYankees.Ticket.Information.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com