★★★★ | Damn Yankees, The Landor Theatre, London
Perpetual losers, The Washington Senators, are failing to win at baseball yet again and fanatic Joe Boyd is tempted into a Faustian pact when he sells his soul to the devilish Mr Applegate in return for a series win. Joe soon realises what he’s leaving behind and is torn between the wife he’s left behind versus the chance to take his team to victory and the distraction of the devil’s sidekick, beautiful and vampy Lola.
Adler and Ross’s multi-award winning musical may have one of the silliest plots around but that doesn’t matter at all. Coming straight after their success with The Pyjama Game and a string of chart hits, Damn Yankees was well received and was even made into a film starring Tab Hunter and Gwen Verdon. Sadly, at the height of their success, Ross died aged 29 from complications of lung disease.
This production has already been nominated for an Off West End award for Best Choreographer for Robbie O’Reilly. It’s not hard to see why. The dance routines are breath taking. The production values of the show are up to the standards of a West End production and tickets are a fraction of the price. O.K., The Landor is a fringe venue and has fewer frills in terms of special effects and scenery but is well worth a trip to Clapham North. The lighting, set and costumes are all well put together especially given the constraints of a smaller venue.
The cast are especially strong with wholesome and handsome Alex Lodge putting in a stellar lead performance as Joe Hardy, showing dazzling dance moves and a powerful voice, which considering that he’s a recent graduate shows a considerable talent. He’s definitely one to watch and not simply because of his boyish good looks. Poppy Tierney and Jonathan D Ellis are both hilariously camp as Mr Applegate and his sidekick Lola and give well polished performances. Ellis’s cabaret turn in Act Two was especially waspish and funny and Tierney gives a good rendition of “Whatever Lola Wants”.
Did I mention the boys? I haven’t seen so much bare male flesh in a musical in quite some time. As well as being a stage presence due to their singing and dancing, their abs and pectorals are worthy of some kind of award, surely? The supporting female cast are equally good but with less flesh on show.
This is definitely worth checking out for an entertaining few hours.
Damn Yankees runs until the 8th of November 2014
Buy tickets here: http://www.landortheatre.co.uk/index.php/booking-office/musicals/damn-yankees-90/