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March 30, 2012

‘Damn Yankees’ takes stage at DWU through weekend

By: Jennifer Jungwirth, The Daily Republic

The devil’s ready to strike a deal, and just in time for baseball season.

Dakota Wesleyan University’s spring musical, “Damn Yankees,” opens tonight at the Sherman Center on Dakota Wesleyan University’s campus.

Tonight’s show is at 7:30 p.m. Other performances include 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 and available at County Fair Foods and in the Rollins Campus Center.

A tale of love versus hate and good versus evil, “Damn Yankees” tells the story of middle-aged Joe Boyd, a longtime fan of the old Washington Senators baseball team. Boyd, who realizes his team is struggling against the great New York Yankees, said he’d “sell his soul for a long-ball hitter,” which he feels will help the hapless Senators win the pennant.

Just as Boyd utters the words, the slick Mr. Applegate — aka the devil — appears and offers Joe a deal: Give up your soul for the team.

Boyd becomes “Joe Hardy,” the young, athletic slugger the Senators need. Being a wise businessman, though, Boyd won’t accept the deal without an escape clause. He has until Sept. 25 to win the pennant, or he won’t return to his former life.

“Damn Yankees” is the second musical at Wesleyan since 2006. Last year’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was welcomed with sold-out performances each night.

“The quality of this production is just as good if not better than ‘Joseph,’ ” said Dan Miller, DWU theater director.

A cast of about 25, the production showcases talent from not only Wesleyan students, but DWU faculty and Mitchell residents.

“It’s nice to have the diversity of age,” said Jeff Holstein, a Wesleyan senior and one of lead roles in “Damn Yankees.”

Monty Bohrer, an associate professor of business at DWU who landed a role in the musical, agreed.

“It allows us to bring for the life of real characters,” Bohrer said. “It also brings out the essence of what Mitchell is all about.”

Holstein won the role of Joe Hardy, the young, athletic Washington Senator, and the alter-ego of Joe Boyd. Holstein took to the stage in “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat” as one of the brothers. Since that was a smaller role, Holstein said he only had to learn lyrics.

“It’s a lot easier to memorize songs than it is lines,” he said. But, “it’s my last year at DWU, and I wanted to challenge myself. I’m not sure how many productions I’ll do later in life.”

It’s Bohrer’s first year at Wesleyan, but he participated in plays at the University of Sioux Falls. He was cast as Mr. Applegate, the devil.

“I just said, ‘Fit me in wherever,’ ” Bohrer said.

And then he landed one of the lead roles.

“They’re stereotyping, that’s what they’re doing,” he said laughing at being cast the antagonistic character.

Miller said he enjoys casting new faces into lead roles each year, giving everybody a chance to showcase their talents.

In addition to two fresh faces, “Damn Yankees” cast Mitchell ACT veteran Roger Allen. Allen, a Wesleyan graduate, has been a part of Mitchell community theater since the days of the Pioneer Players, the predecessor to the ACT. He also directed theater at the high school level.

“The directors for this show have great insight. Their expertise will carry over from last year, and this show should be just as exciting,” Allen said of “Damn Yankees.”

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Last updated: 3/30/12