My highschool was pretty small with only 500 students grade 8-12. There was a drama club which put on productions of musicals and plays, but the general consensus was that the results were lackluster at best. In fact, I never attended a single showing of anything and Damn Yankees is the only production I even recall having taken place. That's mostly because of David Kapner. He was a guy in my place who wanted to do the whole drama thing while lacking as far as any of us could tell, any smidgeon of talent or ability. One day, they dragged the entire school into the auditorium so we could see a preview of the production of Damn Yankees. They presented the first song of the show which at one point consisted of the guys singing 'He's out, he's safe, he's out, he's safe...' with the corresponding gestures indicating as such as if they were umpires. Kapner proceeded to sing his part but did the gestures backwards, which my friends and I found immensely amusing and was the source of much mockery over the next few days. For that one reason, Damn Yankees has stuck in my head for the next 15 or so years, though always with a bit of a negative spin on it.
All of that said, the papermill seemed to do the musical justice. I enjoyed it quite a bit though some elements were just not to my tastes. A lot of the older musicals always have choreographed dancing which is usually not my thing. There are clear exceptions like West Side Story where the movements match the music so beautifully you have to love it, but in general, I just don't appreciate dancing much. It wasn't everywhere in Damn Yankees, but numbers like 'Two Lost Souls' did have me twiddling my thumbs a bit.
It's also interesting just how much of the music was familiar to me, though I wouldn't have known exactly where it had come from before seeing the show. A musical like Damn Yankees has had 50 years to percolate into the general consciousness and I have no clue now whether I've heard the songs on radio, tv, or wherever.
In the end, what's compelling about Damn Yankees is that it's a love story. Not the start of love with its passion and excitement, but endearing and enduring. It reminded me of that silent montage from the beginning of Up in a way. The message that we never really know what we have until we lose it really does ring true and it was a beautiful way to express it. It makes me wonder if this was a sentiment that was especially fitting for the 1950's. After all, this was a generation of people who had lived through WWII and seen ridiculously rapid advancement in their early lives. The sky must have seemed to be the limit back then, and I wonder how many of them as they started their later life wondered if they had somehow missed the bus.
I should relate one other little interesting tidbit about that night. As Karen and I exited the playhouse, I heard something incredibly daft. A guy in his mid 20's stops this girl who's about the same age and says to her something to the effect of, 'Excuse me, you look a lot like this girl I used to know who stopped speaking to me. I was wondering if you're her.' She gave him this bewildered look and the professed not to be the girl in question at which point he proceeded to elaborate a bit on how the girl in question cut him off. Maybe this is the naught's version of 'Hey, you look familiar, don't I know you from somewhere' pickup line? 'Hey, you look familiar, don't you have a restraining order against me?' I thought it was hilarious and Karen was sort of miffed she missed the exchange.
When I related the exchange to Connie, her response was that of course there was something wrong with him. At his age, he's out seeing a musical the night before St Patrick's day. Of course, I realized immediately that I also get tagged with that brush. Oh well.