Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fanclub Dinner

A lovely time was had by all at our fanclub dinner at the Chase Hotel on Saturday, July 17th before the second to last performance of "Damn Yankees".  Some of had met before and some were new.  Two were from the St. Louis area and others came in from other states: New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa.  Everyone agreed their trips were worth it!  Not only were we blessed with Eric's company, but then we got to watch him in this old-fashioned romp.  What a treat!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Maggi's Review of "Damn Yankees"

Amidst cicadas chirping, ambulances whizzing by and airplanes buzzing overhead and despite the 95 degree heat and humidity, the cast of "Damn Yankees" presents an energetic, enthusiastic production at the 11,000 seat Muny amphitheather in St. Louis.  After viewing the 1958 movie, I wasn't sure I'd like the stage version, even though they are very similar.  But Director Paul Blake imbues the production with so much energy and color it hardly seems like the same story.  Blessed with a talented and professional cast, whose singing and dancing is top notch, the show is Broadway caliber.
Eric told me it would "make me smile" and it did, long after I left the theater.  Unlike other shows I've seen Eric in, i.e. Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Miss Saigon, this definitely is a feel-good romp.  Yet the type casting is still there:  Joe Boyd is a good, honest man, unwilling to cheat on his wife with the vamp Lola.  Eric is cast in these "hero" roles because he himself is a good man and it shines through him like a beacon, even in a huge venue like the Muny. 

Eric first appears onstage when he is transformed from the old to the young Joe.  His incredulity at his transformation is amusing and believable.  Eric builds his characterization slowly from naivite in his first encounter with Applegate to the smart and savvy real estate broker that he is at the end, outwitting his Faustian deal with the devil.  His tenderness with his wife (strongly portrayed by Linda Mugleston) is achingly touching.  It's fun to watch him squirm as he politely rebuffs the advances of Lola (a hilarious Angie L. Schworer). 

It takes a strong stage presence to hold his own against the more flashy role of Applegate (Lewis Stadlin) but Eric is a good foil for him when they are both on the stage.  Eric had good preparation for that when he starred in this show on Broadway in the 90's with Jerry Lewis.  It's a treat to see Eric participate in Bob Fosse's jazzy, stylized dance numbers, complete with bowler hats and chairs.  Is there nothing he can't do?   He looks wonderful, ladies. The costumes really suit his look and as a reviewer friend wrote to me recently, "You pick him out of a line-up of ballplayers VERY EASILY". 

I saw the show four nights in a row and each night was flawless.  Too bad these productions only run for a week.  What a waste!  I would travel to Broadway to see it again.

For photos of our trip to St. Louis and more of the fans and Eric see

Monday, July 12, 2010