America's favorite pastime meets the Broadway stage in Damn Yankees, Adler and Ross' 1955 musical hit. Washington Senators fan Joe Boyd wishes his team had a great hitter, and, in a Faustian deal with the devil (and the devil's assistant, Lola), becomes the team's savior—until he has second thoughts and tries to return to his previous life. The action is propelled by great songs such as "You Gotta Have Heart" and "Whatever Lola Wants." Think you already know Damn Yankees? Think again, because SummerFest puts a new spin on the ball in a role-reversed version of this classic favorite.

Arrive early for each performance of Damn Yankees for tailgate-style food options (hot dogs for $3 and hamburgers for $5, served with a side of homemade potato chips!) available for purchase starting one hour before curtain time - no reservations necessary!

 

 

 

 

 

Production Information

Based on the novel by Douglass Wallop, The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.

Running time: approximately 2 hours including one 15-minute intermission.

Damn Yankees is presented through special arrangement with Music Theater International (MTI).

 

Play Ball!!
The ladies from Damn Yankees were invited to sing the National Anthem on Tuesday 07 July before the game as the Pirates beat the Padres at PNC Park!

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Production Team

Words and Music   Richard Adler & Jerry Ross
Book   George Abbott & Douglass Wallop
Director   Scott Wise
Conductor   Michaella Calzaretta
Scenic Designer   Christine Lee Won
Costume Designer   Alexandra Kasckow
Lighting Designer   Madeleine Steineck
Sound Designer   Dawn Neely
Assistant Director   Dawn Neely
Arranger   Joseph Kern

 

Cast

Meg   Benjamin Robinson
Joe Boyd/Commissioner   Desiree Soteres
Applegate   Julia Fox
Sister   Joshua Smith
Doris   Gabriel DiGennaro
Joe Hardy   Rachel Eve Holmes
Henry   Teresa Procter
Sohovik   Samantha Kronenfeld
Smokey   Valerie Hosler
Vernon   Emily Baker
Van Buren   Kelley Kimball
Rocky/Postmaster/Radio Announcer   Jennifer Wilson
Gloria Thorpe   Katie Manukyan
Teenager    
Linville/Lynch   Emily Jensen
Lowe   Elana Bell
Bouley/Eddie/Weston   Ann Louise Glasser
Mickey/Guard   Sabina Balsamo
Welch   Maureen Smith
Lola   Patrick Shelton

 

The Story 

Act 1
Joe Boyd is a passionately devoted fan of the Washington Senators. He is convinced that, if the Senators had a "long ball hitter," the team would beat those "damn Yankees" and earn a place in the national playoffs. No sooner does he say, "I'd sell my soul for one," than Mr. Applegate appears from nowhere. He poses as a slick salesman, but we all know he is the Devil. A deal? Yes. In exchange for Joe's soul, Applegate will create "Joe Hardy," the kind of slugger the Senators need. Joe insists on only one thing: if he plays in the last game of the season, he is "in for the duration." If not, he may walk away from the deal by nine o'clock the night before the final game and return to his old life.

Damn Yankees
Julia Fox in Damn Yankees

In his new role Joe misses his wife Meg but manages, in his altered form, to become her boarder. Applegate, alarmed by this turn of events, calls on Lola, the best home wrecker in his entourage, to attempt a seduction of Joe, but she fails in her attempt and is banished to Hell. As a last move Applegate spreads the rumor that Joe Hardy's real identity is that of "Shifty Joe," a criminal. Joe is arrested.

Act 2
Joe's day in court is the last day of his "deal" with Applegate. As Joe Hardy, technically he does not exist, since he cannot produce any sort of identification. The owner of the Senators, the coach, and even Lola in disguise testify on his behalf, but their testimony is unacceptable. Applegate is called to the stand but claims that he is unable to take the customary oath due to its provision against lying. He is stalling, hoping that the nine o'clock deadline will pass. He claims that Joe needs only time to think the matter through and sends him down to Hell where history's most famous lovers linger. There Joe finds Lola whose heart softens when she realizes that Joe truly loves Meg. She sends him off to the game while she distracts Applegate.

As the fatal hour of nine o'clock draws near, Applegate arrives at the game. Under the night lights Joe is at bat with two strikes against him. Suddenly, just as the clock begins to strike nine, Joe comes to his senses, strikes the incoming pitch with all his might and cries, "Let me go." The spell is broken, but still it is a home run that will assure his team a victory and a place in the playoffs.

Later, Applegate tries once more to lure Joe away with promises of a World Series victory, but his powers are useless against Joe's affection for his wife. He and Lola vanish back to Hell, as true love has its day.

 

Meet the Composer

Richard Adler
Born August 3, 1921, New York; died June 21, 2012, Southampton, NY

Richard Adler had a musical upbringing, his father being a renowned Jewish concert pianist as well as teacher of such as Aaron Copland. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II. After his Navy service he began his career as a lyricist, teaming up with Jerry Ross in 1950. As a duo they worked in tandem, both taking credit for lyrics and music.

After establishing their partnership, Adler and Ross quickly became protégés of composer, lyricist and publisher Frank Loesser. Their first notable composition was the song "Rags to Riches", which was recorded by Tony Bennett and reached number 1 on the charts in late 1953.

Richard Adler

At the same time Bennett's recording was topping the charts, Adler and Ross began their career in Broadway theater with John Murray Anderson's Almanac, a revue for which they provided most of the songs.

Adler and Ross's second Broadway effort, The Pajama Game, opened in May 1954 and was a popular as well as a critical success, winning Tony Awards as well as the Donaldson Award and the Variety Drama Critics Award. Three songs from the show were covered by popular artists and made the upper reaches of the US Hit Parade: Patti Page's version of "Steam Heat" reached #9; Archie Bleyer took "Hernando's Hideaway" to #2; and Rosemary Clooney's recording of "Hey There" made it to #1.

Opening almost exactly a year later, their next vehicle, Damn Yankees replicated the awards and success of the earlier show. Cross-over hits from the show were "Heart", recorded by Eddie Fisher and "Whatever Lola Wants", by Sarah Vaughan.

The duo had authored the music and lyrics for three great Broadway successes in three years, and had seen over a half-dozen of their songs reach the US top ten, two of them peaking at #1. However, their partnership was cut short when Ross died of a lung ailment in November 1955, aged 29.

Adler continued to write both alone and with other partners, and composed a major 1958 hit in collaboration with Robert Allen: "Everybody Loves a Lover", as recorded by Doris Day. However, after 1955 Adler had no further successes on Broadway either as a composer or a producer, although revivals of The Pajama Game and Damn Yankees have proved popular. The 1973 revival of The Pajama Game included one new Adler song, which was retained for the 2006 revival.

His later musicals included Kwamina, which he wrote for his then-wife, Sally Ann Howes, who starred in the show opposite Terry Carter. The musical centered around an interracial love story and was too controversial in a time when civil rights were hotly contested. It has not had a Broadway revival since.

Adler wrote the musical Olympus 7-0000 for the show "ABC Stage 67." His last original Broadway musical was 1976's Music Is (lyrics by Will Holt, music by Adler), based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

In 2000, Debelah Morgan based her song "Dance With Me" on a sample of the Adler & Ross song "Hernando's Hideaway" from The Pajama Game. Adler & Ross consequently received co-composer credits on the track, which reached #8 on the US Billboard charts—and made Adler the unlikely 79-year-old co-composer of a 21st-century popular R&B hit.

He also composed several symphonic and ballet pieces, including one to celebrate the Statue of Liberty's centennial, and staged or produced several shows for U.S. presidents; the most notable of these was a 1962 Madison Square Garden birthday celebration for John F. Kennedy that included Marilyn Monroe singing a version of Happy Birthday to the president in her trademark breathy voice.

 

Librettist

Jerry Ross
Born Jerold Rosenberg; March 9, 1926 – November 11, 1955)

Jerry Ross was born Jerold Rosenberg to Russian immigrant parents, Lena and Jacob Rosenberg, in the Bronx, New York City. Growing up, he was a professional singer and actor in the Yiddish theater, where he was billed as the “Boy Star.”

Jerry Ross

Following high school he studied at New York University under Rudolph Schramm. Introductions to singer Eddie Fisher and others brought him into contact with music publishers at the Brill Building, the center of songwriting activity in New York. (Fisher later had a hit with Ross’ The Newspaper Song.)

Adler and Ross began their career in the Broadway Theater with John Murray Anderson’s Almanac, a revue for which they provided most of the songs (resulting in recordings of Acorn in the Meadow by Harry Belafonte and Fini by Polly Bergen). Their second effort, The Pajama Game, opened in May 1954. with their next show, Damn Yankees, opening almost exactly a year later.

Jerry Ross died on November 11, 1955, at the age of 29, from complications related to the lung disease bronchiectasis. In his short life Ross was extremely productive; he wrote, alone or in collaboration, more than 250 songs in addition to his theatre work.

Ross was entered posthumously into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1982, his wife, Judy, and daughter, Janie, accepting on his behalf.

 

 

You Gotta Have Heart

Baseball is an appealing subject for Pittsburghers. Every summer Pirate fever infects the majority of our worthy population. Therefore, it is not without reason that SummerFest has chosen Damn Yankees as its crossover attraction this year, being assured that it will throw an unexpected light on the goings on in a locker room, and that it may offer some means of assuring the Pirates a place in the national playoffs.

Damn Yankees made its debut in New York on May 5, 1955, running for some 1,000 performances. It was the brainchild of several of Broadway's most distinguished producers: Harold Prince, Robert Griffith, and Frederick Brisson. Based on a novel by Douglass Wallop—The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant—George Abbott and Wallop fashioned the musical's book, while the music and lyrics were entrusted to Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Adler and Ross' success with Pajama Game in 1954 augured well for Damn Yankees. Sadly, Ross succumbed to bronchiectasis a few months after Yankees opened, denying him the full pleasure of the musical's success.

Somewhat out of the ordinary for a musical comedy, the part of Lola, the leading actress, called for a dancer. The role was offered to several of the most popular entertainers of the day: Mitzi Gaynor and Zizi Jeanmaire, wife of the world famous choreographer, Roland Petit. The choice fell finally on Gwen Verdon who, under the direction of Bob Fosse, America's distinguished choreographer, established herself as one of the important musical comedians of the decade.

Reviving the Faust legend in terms of baseball may reflect the optimism of the 1950s, but it may have appealed as well to the hip generation when marijuana smoke replaced reality. Moreover, its popularity was enhanced by a cinematic version in 1958 in which the role of Joe Hardy was taken by the popular film heartthrob Tab Hunter.

As a closing note, Damn Yankees has attracted some unexpected interpreters, especially in the role of Mr. Applegate. Among the better known are Vincent Price, Jerry Lewis and Van Johnson, and more appropriately, in 1981 Joe Namath was cast as the hero, Joe Boyd.

—Jerry Clack