Damn Yankees started life as a book then a Broadway musical on May 5, 1955. And in 1958, it was made into a film which eventually made it to my television set (I’m guessing this happened around the late 1960′s), where I saw it for the first time. Come to think of it, this was probably my first exposure to a musical too.
The movie starred Tab Hunter as Joe Hardy, Gwen Verdon as Lola, Ray Walston as Mr Applegate (both Lola & Applegate portrayed devils in the movie) and Robert Shafer as Joe Boyd. I remember Ray Walston for his television role as Uncle Martin on the sitcom, “My Favorite Martian”, where he played the martian who befriends Tim O’Hara, played by Bill Bixby. Damn Yankees also starred Jean Stapleton who later appeared on “All In The Family” as Edith Bunker with Carroll O’Connor as Archie Bunker.
In October of 2007, a friend sent out an email to see if a group of us wanted to go see the play Damn Yankees at UCLA (a university in Los Angeles, California). I said sure, and so did several others. November 24th rolls around and it was the night of the play. We all met at UCLA and gathered in the lobby of Freud Playhouse where the play was being held. It was time for the play to start, so we lined up to go into the theater and an usher told our group to line up along the wall, instead of lining up at the main doors like everybody else. He then escorted us outside the theater and around the back of the building. We then went into the rear entrance and we found ourselves backstage. We climbed some stairs and were told to sit in these seats which were right on the stage.
Apparently, we were part of the play and it was supposed to look like we were spectators sitting up in the bleachers watching the baseball game. On one hand, it was neat to be a part of the play, but on the other hand, we saw everything from a different perspective than the main audience. I guess we should have looked more closely at the tickets, because instead of having the typical seat numbers, it said “Stage”, DOH!
Despite being seated on the stage, it was a good play, although we may think twice before letting our friend purchase tickets for us in the future. : D
If you get a chance, you should rent the movie, I think you will enjoy it! You gotta figure, if they are still creating plays and commercials based on the film, I can’t be that far off the mark.
Following are some YouTube videos of songs from the movie:
The song, “Whatever Lola Wants”, Sung By Gwen Verdon In The 1958 Movie:
“Whatever Lola Wants” Has Been Revived In This 2012 (54 years later) Pepsi Commercial: