Here in Who Dat country, we know how frustrating it can be to follow a team that is forever trying to reach the big game. So Richard Adler and Jerry Ross' classic musical Damn Yankees resonates in a special way.
An aging married couple, Meg Boyd (Amy Pfrimmer) and real estate agent Joe Boyd (George Sanchez) lead a quiet, comfortable middle-class existence outside of Washington, D.C. They share a life worthy of a Norman Rockwell portrait except for Joe's obsession with the national pastime. For half of every year, the hapless Washington Senators eclipse all his other interests, including his spouse.
In despair over his team's misfortunes, he shouts, "I'd sell my soul for one good long-ball hitter!" Mephistopheles quickly appears in the guise of Mr. Applegate (Jamie Wax) and proposes a deal. Joe will be transformed into a young athlete and lead the Senators to the championship. Joe is enticed but fears he will regret leaving his wife, so he demands an escape clause. The devil agrees but craftily sets the deadline for the clause for the day before the last and possibly decisive game of the season.
Joe is turned into a slim, spirited 24-year-old, baptized by Applegate as Joe Hardy (Keith Claverie). Young Joe can wallop the ball out of the park pitch after pitch. The coach (Mark McLaughlin) hires him, and a reporter (Lauren Elens) hypes the mysterious new player as "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo."
There's an old saying: "Be careful what you wish for; you may get it." In this case, the devil divined Joe Boyd's lifelong fantasy and gave it to him. Now Joe is a baseball star and a celebrity, but he gets tired of life on the road. He misses the comforts of Meg and home. He rents a room from her, without revealing his true identity. Applegate senses a threat to his deal and maneuvers to keep Joe from exercising the escape clause. The most spectacular stratagem is Lola (Samantha Smart), a femme fatale whose specialty is breaking up marriages. But Joe has already proven he's the loyal type, at least to his team.
Under A.J. Allegra's direction, the cast brings the 1950s musical fable to vibrant life. Carrie Black's choreography is imaginative and catchy. David Raphel designed the excellent set. — Dalt Wonk
8 p.m. Thu.-Sat.; 2 p.m. Sun.; through Nov. 1
Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter St., 522-2081; www.lepetittheatre.com