Damn Yankees

Directed by Jack O’Brien, the show features the original Broadway cast and production team, and has music and lyrics by Richard Alder and Jerry Ross, book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop.

Middle aged fan Joe Boyd, of the Washington Senators baseball team is approached by the devil who tells him he can be returned to a twenty year old and be given the skills to become the best baseball player the world has ever known . This way he will be able to play for the Senators and finally beat the New York Yankees and win the pennant. However, there is a price to pay! He would have to give up his past life for good and give his soul to the devil . However, Joe refuses to sign the contract until the devil agrees to an escape clause. The clause, being that on a specific date and time he can choose to return to his former life or go with the devil . Reluctantly the devil agrees and finds he has to produce many temptations and tricks to prevent Joe choosing his former life when the deadline date arrives.

Wow! A great evenings entertainment from start to finish in this three hour musical. The action is fast, exciting, funny and nostalgic . OK, the story is a little sugary sweet, but that does not distract from a production that has quality written all over it.

The cast are so talented that even though most have been doing the show for a couple of years in the States and on tour, they still look fresh.

April Nixon who plays Lola, the devil’s helper, is a sensation with her great voice and sexy movements, particularly when she is has to seduce Joe. However, without doubt the star of the show is Jerry Lewis, as the devil. This is his West End debut, and at the age of 71 , what a great one it is. Using all the skills and experience of his long career he captures the audience like a magnet, particularly when he mimic’s the characters he played in such films as ‘The Nutty Professor’.

Not all critics were as enthusiastic about the show , NICK CURTIS of the EVENING STANDARD describes the show as making “ a modest start to its London season “ and going on to describe Jerry Lewis’s performance as “ sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes just plain ugly” and MICHAEL BILLINGTON of THE GUARDIAN says , “not wildly exciting but harmlessly pleasant.”. However, MICHAEL COVENEY of the DAILY MAIL enjoyed the show and particularly liked the leading actors performances, saying, “Lewis is a treat, Miss Nixon a black bombshell in pink underwear” and CHARLES SPENCER of THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says “Damn Yankees is the kind of musical they don't write any more. Emerging from the theatre with a fatuous smile on my face, I wished that they did.”

The audience gave a deserving standing ovation, something I’m sure the cast will receive at each performance. This is one of the best shows on the West End at the moment and I urge you to see it, not just because I consider the show to be great, but also because it’ll probably be the only chance you’ll have of seeing Jerry Lewis, a true professional on stage.

(Darren Dalglish)

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