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Final SPA show, 'Damn Yankees,' runs through Wednesday

Behind the scenes at "Damn Yankees," the third and final show of the Summer Performing Arts season, the costume changes are frantic, director Connie Sherwood said.

'Damn Yankees'
The Summer Performing Arts production of "Damn Yankees" runs tonight through Wednesday at Red River High School Theater. From left are Brian Campbell, Niall Davis, Daniel Guthmiller, Luke Hoplin, Casey Smith, Nathaniel Lockett and Nathan Crocker.

Behind the scenes at "Damn Yankees," the third and final show of the Summer Performing Arts season, the costume changes are frantic, director Connie Sherwood said.

For many of the male characters, one minute, they're in baseball uniforms and seconds later, they're in suits, Sherwood said.

"Luckily, most of the costume changes are for the boys," she said, which uncomplicates the dressing room "where did I put my stuff?" situation, at least a little bit.

"Damn Yankees," the musical about a fan so invested in his beloved baseball team that he makes a deal with the devil, is a show from the 1950s, as was SPA's earlier show, "Bye Bye Birdie."

The SPA staff tapped into the era's mojo by playing '50s music, and organizing a sock hop and other '50s-style events for SPA participants. The blast from the past turned out to be a hit.


"That's very attractive to kids because it's very fun," she said.

Sherwood's assistant director for the show, which runs at 7:30 p.m. tonight through Wednesday at Red River High School Theatre, is her father, retired Grand Forks music teacher Ken Sherwood. Mike Weber is music director, Angie Black Erickson and Teran Ferguson are choreographers, and Maria Williams Kennedy is vocal coach.

"Damn Yankees" has a strong cast and chorus, including SPA veteran Cody Gerszewski as Applegate, Lucifer posing as just another devoted baseball fan who -- for a price -- can make all Joe Boyd's seemingly impossible baseball dreams come true. Last summer, Gerszewski played the lead character of Tevye in SPA's "Fiddler on the Roof."

"Cody is one of those rare individuals who, the minute he starts a production, knows every line, not just his own," Sherwood said. "I've known him since sixth grade. Even then he could take anybody's part and do it without a script. He's a great kid to be on stage with because he can cover anything you do."

He brings full energy to his characters at all times, even in rehearsal, is meticulous and totally prepared, she said.

Joe Boyd, the middle-aged baseball fan whose deal with the devil turns him into the young and talented baseball star Joe Hardy, is played by Luke Hoplin. When he's done with his Joe Boyd scenes, the 6-foot-5 Hoplin moves seamlessly into the character of one of the players on the baseball team, Sherwood said.

The young Joe Hardy is played by Alex Hovey, a singer with "an absolutely gorgeous voice," Sherwood said. Rachel Biberdorf is the femme fatale, Lola, and has the dance skills and the appearance to be convincing when she sings "Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets)."

Other lead roles are Daniella Lima as the reporter, Gloria, (who belts a fantastic "Shoeless Joe," Sherwood said) and Rose Dennis as Joe Boyd's devoted wife, Meg.


Tickets to the show are $15, $10 and $5. For reservations, call (701) 746-2411.

Reach Tobin at (701) 780-1134; (800) 477-6572, ext. 134; or send e-mail to ptobin@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: THEATER
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