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Fallon House, off Parrotts Ferry Road, Columbia
Through Sept. 6. 2 p.m. Wednesdays, 7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
2½ hours, including an intermission
COLUMBIA - Sierra Repertory Theatre has hit a home run with its production of the baseball musical "Damn Yankees" at the Fallon House.
This updated take on the Faust story has humor, sex appeal and heart with an irresistible jazzy score.
Frustrated that his favorite team, the Washington Senators, is constantly defeated by the Yankees, graying baseball fan Joe Boyd signs a pact with the devil to turn himself into a much younger baseball star, Joe Hardy.
But once he hits the big time, he realizes he misses his wife and his simpler life.
One of the most impressive parts of this production is how set designer Rand Enlow manages to create the illusion of a baseball stadium, complete with dugout and bleachers, on the very small Fallon House stage.
It's also fun to watch the special effects associated with the devil. This charming scoundrel causes flames and smoke to appear with a flick of his hands.
Director-choreographer Scott Viets makes sure every big dance scene is a winner. His finest moment is "Heart," where he has the team members dancing on the field and in towels in the shower. Another standout scene is the Fred Astaire- Ginger Rogers-type partner dance, performed in silhouette amid fog.
First performed on Broadway in 1955, the musical was inspired by journalist Douglass Wallop's comic novel "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant." Wallop wrote the musical's upbeat book along with George Abbott, with Richard Adler and Jerry Ross contributing the catchy music and lyrics.
John C. Brown steals almost every scene as Mr. Applegate, the fast-talking devil. Dressed in a bright red suit (one of many striking outfits provided by costume designer Tracy M. Ward), he is more mischievous than evil. His wiseguy comments are a nice contrast to the sentimental parts of the show.
Ronald F. Randall and Jonathan Scott Roth are equally lovable as the older and younger Joe. Roth is strikingly handsome and looks great when his baseball star character is doing celebrity endorsements.
Sierra Rep favorite Julie Ludlum is fantastic as seductress Lola, whom the devil employs to lure Joe from his wife. She strikes just the right balance of sex appeal and comedy in one of the show's most famous numbers, "Whatever Lola Wants."
Greg Parker is delightfully passionate and politically incorrect as the Washington Senators' coach. Julia Goretsky offers acerbic comedy as sportswriter Gloria.
Becky Saunders is sympathetic as Joe's long-suffering wife, Meg, and Deb Albrecht is hilarious as her goofy, baseball-obsessed sister.
Saunders' part cuts to the heart of the show, which is a celebration of marriage as much as it is of baseball. According to this musical, what's really important at the end of the day is not winning teams and fame -- it's long-lasting love.
Bee arts writer Lisa Millegan can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2313.