Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Damn Yankees (1955 Original Broadway Cast)
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks, Broadway & Vocalists
Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, who were protegés of Frank Loesser, composed and wrote lyrics for only two hit shows of their own--The Pajama Game was the other. (Ross died in 1955, shortly after the opening of Damn Yankees.... more »
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Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, who were protegés of Frank Loesser, composed and wrote lyrics for only two hit shows of their own--The Pajama Game was the other. (Ross died in 1955, shortly after the opening of Damn Yankees.) But what great shows they were, in sensibility and subject matter entrenched in their Eisenhower era, yet eminently revivable today--and as much more than period pieces. Damn Yankees, which was based on Douglas Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, neatly combined the national obsession with baseball and its dominant team with the Faust legend. The Devil himself (Ray Walston) offers a middle-aged fan of the Washington Senators the chance to turn into a Mickey Mantle-esque ballplayer (Stephen Douglass) to help his hapless team against those Bronx Bombers. The fan accepts, but with an escape clause in the interest of story-line complications. What makes the plot problematic is not its proven fantasy level; it's that the leading lady, Lola, the Devil's temptress assistant, doesn't appear until way into the first act, and then she is required to dominate the show with just two solos and a couple of duets. Only a star with the guts and stage-holding ability of Gwen Verdon could have managed this in the first place, even though her solos are the estimable "A Little Brains--A Little Talent" and the near-standard "Whatever Lola Wants." Bebe Neuwirth, as Lola, was never able to seize the stage--or the recording--of the 1994 revival, and ultimately that show became about Jerry Lewis as the Devil, for God's sake. Verdon's and Walston's amazing original performances are preserved in the movie version (Tab Hunter took over the ballplayer's role), but this recording is the one to have. The show's breakout hit song, sung by ballplayers and fans, was and is "(You Gotta Have) Heart." Damn Yankees and all its songs have just that. --Robert Windeler
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Member CD Reviews
John W. (jlwbear)
Reviewed on 8/17/2010...
"Damn Yankees" is classic Broadway at its best with the delightful Gwen Verdon performing superbly (as usual). Also in the cast, Ray Walston ("Uncle Martin" on "My Favorite Martian" tv show from the early 1960's) is good, and even Jean Stapleton ("Edith Bunker" from All in the Family TV fame has a small but fine role in this original cast recording. This recording is a must for all Broadway show fans who appreciate the "real Broadway".
Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston at their Broadway Best
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 02/13/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Douglas Wallop's novel "The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant" was turned into the successful musical "Damn Yankees" by the creative team that had produced "The Pajama Game." Featuring music & lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, both hits were directed by George Abbot and Choreographed by Bob Fosse. For good measure, one of the producers was Harold Prince. All of the above won Tony Awards in 1956 when "Damn Yankees" was named Best Musical, along with Gwen Verdon as Lola for Best Actress, Ray Walston as Mr. Applegate for Best Actor and Russ Brown as Van Buren the Manager for Featured Actor. For Verdon this was her first featured role on Broadway (and second of four Tony Awards), while the devilish Applegate was Walston's signature role for most of his career until he returned to the public's consciousness as Judge Henry Bone on television's "Picket Fences" (The less said about "My Favorite Martian" the better). "Damn Yankees" combines the Faust myth with the reality of baseball in the 1950s, which meant the New York Yankees where always winning the pennant (they had just won five World Series in a row) while the standard joke about the Washington Senators was that "Washington was first in war, first in peace and last in the American League." Disheartened Senators fan Joe Boyd makes a deal with Mr. Applegate: in exchange for his soul he is transformed into 22 year old Joe Hardy, who will lead his team to the pennant. However, since he is a real estate salesman, Joe works an escape clause in the contract: before September 24th he can change his mind and get his soul back (a whole new meaning to the Trading Deadline I suppose). Applegate sends the lovely Lola to seduce Joe to seal the bargain, and when her attempt fails Applegate has to take more desperate measures to make sure he keeps Joe's soul. The conclusion offers a fair amount of twists and turns before we get to the requisite happy ending. My major "complaint" about this album is that you if you are not seeing Gwen Verdon strut her stuff when she does her signature song "Whatever Lola Wants," you are simply being shortchanged. Same thing with "A Little Brains--a Little Talent." The woman came alive on stage. Thankfully her performance in this legendary role is captured on film. The score has its fair share of fun tunes, from the well-known "Heart" to "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo." and "Six Months Out of Every Year." Of the more sentimental tunes, only "Two Lost Souls" stands out. I am always surprised Walston does not have more numbers than "Those Were the Gold Old Days." Applegate is just too good of a character to have only one song. "Damn Yankees" is a fun musical but not a great one, where the performances of the two stars get everything they can from the material and more. Final Notes: Jean Stapleton has a role as one of the Baseball Fans and the film version of "Damn Yankees" is somewhat unique because with the exception of Tab Hunter replacing Stephen Douglass as Joe Hardy the Broadway cast shows made it to Hollywood."
"Six Months Out of Every Year......."
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 10/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"So begins one of Broadway's most delightful (and successful) musical offerings of the early 50's, DAMN YANKEES, based on the popular novel 'The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant' by Douglass Wallop.With its immortal, zippy score by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, the musical starred the legendary triple-threat Gwen Verdon (in her first leading role following her debut in CAN-CAN) and also featured Ray Walston as the snide 'Devil in Disguise' Mr Applegate.The cast includes Stephen Douglass (THE GOLDEN APPLE) as well as Rae Allen, who sings the show-stopping "Shoeless Joe From Hannibal, Mo.". Gwen Verdon, in the role of scene-stealing seductress Lola, gets several choice numbers including her now-legendary "Whatever Lola Wants", as well as "A Little Brains, A Little Talent", "Who's Got the Pain?" and "Two Lost Souls". Shannon Bolin (PROMENADE) sings the plaintive cry for attention, "Six Months Out of Every Year".Although immortalised on screen as well as being revived for Broadway in the 90's, nothing can ever top the original 1955 cast album of DAMN YANKEES in terms of perfection and excitement. Highly-recommended."