Though the sky was cloudy, last Friday was a star-studded night at Maui Tropical Plantation. Maui Academy of Performing Arts presented its opening performance of "Damn Yankees," the 1950s Broadway musical comedy about a baseball fan who sells his soul to the devil to get his chance in the big leagues, only to discover that what he really wanted he had had all along.
Directed by David C. Johnston, choreographed by Andre Morissette, with musical direction by Marti Kluth, the show is a sentimental love story wrapped in sports story, with a Faustian twist. Featuring catchy music, interesting dance numbers, sly humor and some of the biggest names on the Maui theater scene, "Damn Yankees" really is a show with something for everyone.
Mark Bolden is perfect as the young long-ball hitter Joe Hardy, with a great singing voice and all of the easygoing charm and sincerity of the boy next door. He does a wonderful job capturing both the eagerness and excitement of an ardent baseball fan who suddenly finds himself a star, and the maturity and tenderness of a middle-age man who suddenly realizes how much he loves and misses his wife.
Lola (Cyndi Davis) spices up the game in MAPA’s production of “Damn Yankees” at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Wailuku.
Eric Rolph Photography
Andrew Bulkley is great as the hapless middle-age baseball fan Joe Boyd, who offers to sell his soul for the chance to become the long-ball hitter (Joe Hardy) his favorite team, the Washington Senators, needs to beat the Yankees.
Steve Hatcher is hilarious as the diabolical but fashion-conscious Mr. Applegate, who takes Joe up on his offer. Hatcher drives the show with commanding stage presence and perfect comedic timing.
Cyndi Davis is the seasoned seductress Lola, Mr. Applegate's not-so-subtle secret weapon. Davis throws herself into the sexy, ridiculous role with humor and pizazz.
Kristi Scott plays sweet, sympathetic Meg, Joe's loyal but long-suffering wife. Despite the age gap, she and Bolden create heartwarming chemistry onstage.
Hard-hitting sports reporter Gloria, played by Robyn Grahn, may be a woman struggling to make it in a man's world, but thanks to Grahn's upbeat energy, she comes across as strong and passionate rather than jaded.
Mark Collmer creates a big impact and a lot of laughs as enthusiastic Coach Van Buren, who preaches to the discouraged Senators that to be a great baseball team, "You gotta have heart!"
Rochelle Dunning and Beth Garrow are hysterical as Meg's giddy friends Doris and Sister.
Despite top-notch performances by the leading actors, the real stars of the show are the nine baseball players, Adam Burke as Eddie, Francis Tau'a as Smokey, Eric Peterson as Sohovik, Joseph Duncan as Bryan, Joshua Eldred as Lowe, Miles Kelsey as Henry, Dillion Green as Linville, Greg Cotton as Rocky and Cody Ball as Mickey. It is a blast to see a stage full of men singing and dancing together - and doing a fabulous job! Andre Morissette's fun choreography is a perfect showcase for the group's talent.
Allen Cohen plays Senators owner Mr. Welch; Joel Agnew is the radio announcer; and Jason Strahn plays the postmaster. Gina Duncan, Hana Valle, Julie Kawamura, Leighanna Locke, Sydney Roberts and Rayna Koishikawa make up the female chorus and the giggling Joe Hardy fan club.
The experience of outdoor theater is a rare treat for audiences. The artistic staff and production crew deserve major props for all of the hard work they put into building a stage with a full lighting and sound system from the ground up. The artistic staff includes scenic designer Caro Walker; lighting designer Bonnie Prucha; sound designer Bruce Sandler; vocal director Leighanna Locke; costume designer Kathleen Schulz; and props mistress Vicki Sparkman. The production crew includes production manager Mark Collmer; stage manager Christina Sutrov; technical director Amy Lord; master carpenter Greg Cotton; and many other hardworking volunteers.
For anyone who likes musicals, happy endings, baseball, the 1950s, or the great outdoors, "Damn Yankees" is too good an experience to miss.
* "Damn Yankees" performs 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 21 at Maui Tropical Plantation. Gates open at 6:15 p.m. Bring blankets or low beach chairs for lawn seating or sit in the bleachers. Call 244-8760 in advance to arrange special-needs seating. Tickets are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors (62 and older) and $18 for students (18 and younger). For tickets, visit www.mauiacademy.org or call the box office at 244-8760.
"Social Security:" ProArts presents its first show of the season, "Social Security" by Andrew Berman. Trendy art gallery owners Barbara and David have their life upended when Barbara's uptight sister and brother-in-law, Trudy and Martin, deposit their eccentric mother, Sophie, on their doorstep while they head to Buffalo to rescue their sexually precocious daughter. Sophie is introduced to a suave, aging artist named Maurice, who brightens her life in ways she never expected. The original production, a Broadway hit, starred Marlo Thomas, Ron Silver and Olympia Dukakis. "Social Security" features the best of Maui talent including Chaney Cramer ("Rats!") as Barbara; Kevin Hazelton ("Driving Miss Daisy") as David; Joyce Romero ("Driving Miss Daisy") as Sophie; Norman Halip ("Arsenic & Old Lace") as Maurice; and newcomers Angela Thompson and Jonathan Yudis as Trudy and Martin. The show contains some adult content.
* "Social Security" takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, starting Sept. 2 through 18 at the ProArts Playhouse. There will be no performance on Sept. 4. Thursdays and Saturday, Sept. 4, are Kama'aina Nights: $15 tickets with Hawaii ID. Regular tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students 18 and younger. Call 463-6550 for tickets or more information.
Wanda Skyes at the MACC:?Called "one of the funniest stand-up comics" by her peers, Wanda Sykes is ranked among Entertainment Weekly's 25 Funniest People in America. From movies to TV shows to stand-up and comedy tours, the comedian has proven that funny is her business.
* Wanda Sykes is coming to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Sept. 9. Tickets are $46, $66 and $76, available from the MACC box office, 242-7469 or mauiarts.org.