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Francis Wilson Playhouse stages classic baseball musical 'Damn Yankees'

CLEARWATER

With the influx of snowbirds and arrival of spring training baseball, Francis Wilson Playhouse is betting the Broadway smash Damn Yankees is going to hit it out of the ballpark.

"It's our 83rd season and this is the first time we've presented Damn Yankees," said Gabrielle Snapp, box office manager and playhouse board member. "We think this is going to be a big hit, especially with the men. Normally, women come to musicals with their girlfriends, but we're expecting a lot more guys this time around.

"Tell them to wear their favorite baseball cap."

Damn Yankees is a 1956 Tony Award-winning musical about Joe Boyd, a middle-aged baseball fanatic who worships the pitiful Washington Senators team. When Boyd (Dennis Winchester) says he would sell his soul to the devil for "one good long-ball hitter," Mr. Applegate, a.k.a. Satan, obliges.

He turns Boyd into 22-year-old Joe Hardy (Zachary Tranter), a young superstar who can help the Senators beat those "damn Yankees."

The only problem with the Faustian agreement is, Joe must leave his wife, Meg, whom he dearly loves. And if the Senators win the pennant, Joe will spend the rest of his life in hell — unless he can execute an escape clause.

The musical score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross contains memorable tunes like the seductive Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets, the beatnik-era Two Lost Souls and the energetic Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo.

Brian Harvey of Seminole won the role of Mr. Applegate.

"I don't play him as an evil character, but likeable and charming with comic flair," said Harvey, an actor who has done voice-overs for animated Disney movies The Black Cauldron and The Fox and the Hound.

Harvey said he has also performed in many television commercials running on Hispanic television stations "even though I don't speak a word of Spanish."

With his red hair, goatee and naturally devilish grin, he is a perfect fit for the role of a razzle-dazzle con man out to snatch up souls.

Lisa Stanforth, 28, of Tampa, plays the steamy Lola, the best home wrecker on Satan's staff. "This is a bucket list role," she said. "I love the songs and my character is really fun. There are a lot of things I do in this role I'd never do in real life."

Wearing a black lace corset while dancing around in a team's locker room may be one of them.

Terri Bryce Reeves may be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

>>fast facts

Damn Yankees

What: a 1956 Tony Award-winning musical

Show times: 8 p.m. today, Feb. 23 and 28 and March 1, 2, 8 and 9.

Matinees at 2 p.m. Feb. 24, March 2, 3, 10.

Where: Francis Wilson Playhouse, 302 Seminole St., Clearwater

Tickets: $26 adults, $13 students with ID. Available through

franciswilsonplayhouse.org or by calling (727) 446-1360.

Francis Wilson Playhouse stages classic baseball musical 'Damn Yankees' 02/21/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 6:28pm]
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