“Take Me Back to the Ball Game”

By Catherine Stadem
Anchorage Times Focus News Writer

My, how life has changed in the last 35 years. If you don’t believe it, Anchorage Community Theater’s current production of the 50’s musical “Damn Yankees” is testimony. Although some may find the final show of ACT’s season yawningly dated, it still holds a certain charm, even in this uneven production.

Like all Faustian tales, temptations of the flesh play a role — a large role.

Hence, perhaps, the show’s most hummable number: “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets.” But after Pond’s deodorizing , Ursula Gould is nearly prim as Lola, the devil’s temptress. Her prudish costumes don’t help. Despite these constraints, Gould can dominate the stage like few other Anchorage community theater actors.

At Sunday’s matinee, two days after opening, several actors in supporting roles still seemed uncertain of their lines. Granted, “Damn Yankees” with multiple scene changes and large production numbers, is a considerable stretch for a small community theater made up of volunteers.

The nervous actors contrasted dramatically with the self-assured talent of Michelle Booher, Dan Wolfe and the previously mentioned Gould.

Booher plays Meg, the wife of Joe, the man who sells his soul. The University of Alaska Anchorage theater student has a big, sultry voice and the stage presence of a diva. Incidentally, Booher also designed (and helped sew) the period costumes for the cast of 30.

Wolfe is excellent as Applegate, the devil in a deep blue suit with a more than passing interest in baseball. Wolfe never disappoints. If he ever gives up his day job as a captain in the U.S. Army, this versatile singer-hoofer-actor who has brought so much life to Anchorage stages could surely find a job in theater.

Russ Marsh, in the principle role if Joe Hardy, is confident when it comes to singing but still unsure of his acting. Mike Wood, as the man who sells his soul, is touching, particularly in duet with Booher. A standout among the ballplayers is Don Vaskey as the not-too-bright Rockey, who brings great energy to all his scenes.

Catherine Stadem is a 1985 Fellow of the National critics Institute and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.