By Andrea Runnels
Sunday, April 29th was the final performance for the talented cast of Damn Yankees at the Buford Community Center after an almost two and a half week run. As Co-Artistic Director Julie Skrzypek introduced the show, she thanked the town of Buford and its patrons for their support during the “inaugural run of this show” and encouraged audience members to buy a season pass for other upcoming shows. Skrzypek’s other credits include directing shows at Synchronicity Theatre, Dallas Theatre, Essential Theatre, Academy Theatre, Emory University and her alma mater Clayton State University. Spearheading the show with her as Co-Artistic Director was Justin Walker, who has worked as an actor in regional theatres for over a decade and specifically with local Atlanta productions at the Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Aurora Theatre, Georgia Shakespeare, amongst many others.
Before mentioning the details of the performance itself, it’s important to note those men and women who no doubt worked tireless hours behind the scenes to help the cast pull off a flawless performance. The tech crew included Karl Dickey, John LaFontaine, Ben Rawson, Cody Evans, Cody Russell, and Holly Dickerson.
The show’s performance featured live instrumentalists under the leadership of Gwinnett native Nick Silvestri who was the conductor and Musical Director. Choreographer Kari Twyman had her work cut out for her factoring in baseball equipment but she hit a home run! Costume designer Derrick Vanmeter’s costume design captured the era perfectly!
Now on with the show. Literally. If you aren’t familiar with Damn Yankees, which is based on the book by George Abbott and Douglas Wallop, you’d be surprised to know it isn’t really about the Yankees. It sure is about baseball though along with some heart, nostalgia, humor, some spice, and a touch of the underworld. Baseball super-fan Joe Boyd (played by Brandon Patrick) essentially debates selling his soul to the devil (in the form of the cunning character Mr. Applegate) just to help his beloved Washington Senators beat the Yankees and turn around an especially dismal season. Enter Joe Hardy, the reincarnation of Boyd as a young baseball phenom. Hardy was brilliantly played by dashing actor Blake Burgess. Chris Mayers nailed it as Applegate adding the perfect touch of deadpan humor. The ensemble numbers were perfectly executed and Erin Burnett’s heart-warming performance as Joe’s wife Meg appealed to the inner hopeless romantic in us all. Stealing the show had to have been the stunning Asia Howard who played temptress Lola! “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets” she sang. Well except in the case of Mr. Joe Hardy…
You can find out more about future cultural events at the Buford Community Center by calling 770-904-2740 or by visiting www.bufordcommunitycenter.com.