by Kristina Foderaro
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
"Damn Yankees," directed by NU's director of theatre Steven Braddock, opens at the Leary Theatre on Nov. 10. This Tony Award-winning musical, with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, is a story about how Joe Boyd (played by sophomore John Staton Jr.), a fan of the hopeless Washington Senators, makes a deal with the devil in hopes of bringing his team to victory against those "damn Yankees."
Sophomore Nathan Andrew Miller plays the Senators' manager, VanBuren.
"Van Buren has a tough time motivating his players, whom he knows has the talent to win, but can't seem to get in the right mindset," Miller says.
Freshman Nathanial W.C. Higgins, who plays Smokey, explains that the members of the Senators are down on their luck until Joe Hardy, played by Mike Van Dyke, joins and invigorates the team.
Sophomore Bobby Hall plays Linville, whose position is replaced when Hardy joins the team. Hall says that even though Linville resents his new teammate at first, he realizes that he must learn to support him.
Senior Jamie Nablo says that this show is about realizing that you don't realize how precious the things you have are until they're gone. Hall agrees with the grass-is-always-greener-theme, saying that this play is about "regretting decisions and realizing that you were happier before you tried to fix it."
Higgins says that audiences will be able to relate to many of the themes in "Damn Yankees." In addition to the grass-is-always-greener theme, the musical also touches base (no pun intended) with overcoming temptation. Hall notes that this play is also about people willing to do anything for their passions. He says this show will inspire students to "relight the fires that go out when you're awake at two in the morning wondering why you're working on this paper."
Nablo encourages students to see this production by equating it to a sporting event. She says that, just how athletes feed off the crowd's energy, the actors get energy and excitement out of seeing their peers in the audience.
"Instead of seeing a competition, you're going to be coming to see a story unfurl before your eyes - and a beautiful story at that," Nablo says.
Senior Emily Aguilar exclaims that this show will be captivating for audiences of all walks of life, "especially (for) anyone who enjoys baseball, lively music, and a good laugh."
Nablo says that this is "a genuine American tale, and I really think we're 'hitting it out of the park.' "
"Damn Yankees" is the first play that Braddock will direct as a Purple Eagle. Aguilar appreciates the opportunity to work with him in this production and became more familiar with how he runs things. Hall says that Braddock is "an amazing director," and is making an impact with his first production at NU. Miller says that Braddock is "great at giving the actor opportunities to create his or her own character and make choices according to that character. I'd say 20 or 25 percent of the show is ad libs that have worked for us in rehearsal."
"Damn Yankees" is on stage at the Leary Theater in the Elizabeth Anne Clune Center at 7 p.m. on Nov. 10 and 17, and at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 11, 12, 18 and 19. Matinees will be held at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12, 13, 19 and 20. A post-show discussion will be held on Nov. 13.
All theater productions are free for students with valid NU IDs to attend.