Review of Damn Yankees at The Ordway in St. Paul, MN

Quote of the Day: A man doesn’t know what he has, until he loses it.. Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets… You gotta have Heart… Remember the game! These are some of the song lyrics running through my brain after watching Damn Yankees! at The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, MN last night. In fact, many people walked away from the theatre singing You gotta have heart, their curtain call song.


Allen Fitzpatrick, Randy Schmeling, Dieter Bierbrauer and Reid-Harmsen in Damn Yankees at The Ordway. 

Damn Yankees! is a fun show about America’s favorite past-time in America’s favorite theatre experience – a musical. It’s witty and fast-paced. James Rocco and his creative team made a few changes to bring new life to this 1950’s musical, and it works. The cast is multi-talented and more diverse in culture than perhaps you would have seen in the past. I had flashbacks to the Jackie Robinson story because the setting for this musical is at the time when the color barrier had been broken, but wasn’t yet fully accepted. It didn’t matter on this stage. Everyone was equally talented and seemed to be having a delightful time telling this story together. 

 Thay Floyd as Joe Hardy, Gary Briggle as the Commissioner, and Kersten Rodau as Gloria Thorpe

Thay Floyd as Joe Hardy, Gary Briggle as the Commissioner, and Kersten Rodau as Gloria Thorpe

It’s a story about selling your soul to the Devil to have a different life, to be the guy who changed the outcome of the game, to experience life in a way that has otherwise been out of your reach. In the end, it is a reminder that what is

Tari Kelly as Lola in the Ordway's production of Damn Yankees! She's seductive and self-assured until she meets her match with Joe's class and devotion to his wife.

Tari Kelly as Lola in the Ordway’s production of Damn Yankees! She’s seductive and self-assured until she meets her match with Joe’s class and devotion to his wife.

truly important has nothing to do with the score of a baseball game, or even your own batting average. To beat back the Devil, you need to remain true to your beloved and be there for each other. It’s a steamy night of theatre as Lola pulls out all the stops to tempt the younger, more athletic, Joe Hardy. The devil himself, Mr. Applegate, works Joe over, promising him great things, and working his own angle to defeat those Damn Yankees and bring victory to the Washington Senators (the precursor to our own Minnesota Twins). They keep the show moving with big dance numbers and flashy costumes. Mr. Applegate looked like a Las Vegas magician, and Lola was both sexy and funny in her glitter and lace and shimmying moves. The baseball players seemed to be a bunch of guys who were in it for the sport, the camaraderie, and the excitement. Their songs were entertaining and playful as we watched them in all stages of dress in their locker room. The dancers, especially for the mamba song, were fun to watch.

The crowd was really into the story of those Damn Yankees (and the Washington Senators), the high energy dancing, and the sweet love story that brings Joe back home. There were whistles and cheers, sighs, and hoots of delight, just like when you’re hanging out at the ballpark with your friends. All that was missing was the beer and hot dogs. 

Visit the website for The Ordway for tickets and showtimes.


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Journaling Prompt: What’s your favorite baseball team?