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DAMN YANKEES  /  Plays Part 3





  "there is no joy in mudville, mighty casey has struck out"

 A line from the most famous poem written about the National pastime.

    What if mighty Casey had not struck out? What would the results have been?

    The short lived musical "Batter Up" gives us the answer and delivers

several fast moving skits dealing with the game of baseball, its characters, and wacky baseball plays that are carried out on the stage in highly original skits.

   It opened up at the Princess Theatre in Decatur, Alabama. The year was 1996, the reviews were generally positive but very people came. It was directed by Carol Puckett. It had a combination of  songs (seventeen of them) some wild, chaotic dance routines, and the answer to what would have happened if Casey had been successful.

   The cast was a fairly large one, seventeen men, two women, seven children, and a chorus.

   There were no leading players as such, everyone had a chance to do a turn either in a skit or a musical number. It didn't help!!



   A one man show that opened and closed in 2005.

  The combination of political bashing of the Right wing political base and the Republican party using baseball metaphors to put it all together just didn't work on the stage.

  Its put together within a stream of consciousness, was awkwardly done, and ended up being simplistic and muddled.

  Paul Boocock is in this tour de force and his acting is certainly the highlight of the show. It tried to show that Democracy is a delicate balance  of the needs of many with those of the few, with the Republicans ending up as the bad guys. I have no problem with that assumption but the public at large did.

   He also digs into corporate greed, political shenanigans, and the gullibility of the baseball and general public.

   Three strikes and it was out.



   A short one act play. 

   A batter hits a pop-up. In the six seconds it takes to go up and then come down the catcher and the manager of the team  talk about life in general.

   More of a look at the personal feelings of the two men than baseball itself, the play garnered no publicity and disappeared quickly.



   The play was never published but did reach Broadway where it appeared for 5 days in 1956. It featured some top notch names (Sam Levene, and Don Murray)…..Levene also directed the production.

   A cant miss pitching phenom holds the fate of his manger in his hands with the  possibility of his making the Major Leagues. Without giving away the the gist of the plot it should be mentioned that a Peanut Vendors picket line figures prominently in the play.

   There was some humor and the acting did well but the dialogue was stiff and predictable. This was one of Don Murray's earliest roles. Shortly thereafter he went on to have a successful career in films.



   A Baseball Little League coach and his wife go through the disintegration of their marriage, alcoholism, and the conflict of his wife's rocky career as an aspiring actress.

   Actor Victor Spinilli has a tour de force as the alcoholic coach throughout the whole play. Some of his lines called for complex acting, which he pulled off admirably while still drunk.

    The play ends with a developing affair between the mother of one of the coach's of the boy's on his team.

    The  author of the play was Jonathon Miller who wrote the Championship Season and had a career as an actor as well (appearing as the troubled priest in the Exorcist



   August Wilson wrote this play based on players he knew who played for the Negro Leagues.

   It deals with a former player who has trouble with his disappointments in life, is now a trash collector, and makes things difficult for his friends and family.

   It takes place in 1957 and Troy Maxon is bitter that his career ended without his getting a chance to play in the Major Leagues.

    The play won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for drama and also the Tony award for best drama of 1987. It starred James Earl Jones and Mary Alice who won Tony awards for best actor and actress.


    Next month BASEBALL FILMS.

    There are plenty of them and most of them are pretty awful.

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