Damn Yankees

Richard Adler and Jerry Ross' 1955 musical tells of the hapless, inept, cellar-dwelling Washington Senators and their Faustian quest to beat their titular archrivals: Middle-aged fan Joe Boyd (Hugh Hastings) sells his soul to be transformed into Joe Hardy (Christopher Charles Wood), a home-run king half his age. The show creaks, and Adler and Ross reuse the plot-halting contrivance of a variety-show-within-the-show, which makes even less sense here than it did in their earlier hit The Pajama Game. (At least that show can boast "Steam Heat.") But the cast of this affectionately energetic show sells the proven material. Standouts include Patti Cohenour, who brings a great deal of warmth and a perfectly calibrated drop of pathos to Mrs. Boyd, who has no idea where her husband's gone; and Chryssie Whitehead as the devil's agent, Lola. With a Vargas-girl body that seems capable of moving in six directions at once, Whitehead would-be locker-room seduction of Wood is both steamy and hilarious. The pair really lift off in their final duet, "Two Lost Souls," performed with an ease and style that epitomizes the 5th's smart, fresh way with these classic period pieces. Mark S. Hoebee directs. GAVIN BORCHERT [See Gavin's full review.]

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: April 21. Continues through May 20, 2012

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