The disconnected nature of much of the music can work in the show’s advantage — Lola’s mambo “Who’s Got the Pain?” and Lola and Joe’s duet “Two Lost Souls” are only tenuously connected to the main narrative, but are wholly engaging standalone pieces. Similarly, “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO” begins as a fairly integrated number about Hardy’s past but soon transforms into an extended dance piece with the Senators and nosy reporter Gloria Thorpe (Nancy Anderson).
The dancing in the 5th’s production, choreographed by Denis Jones and retaining some of Bob Fosse’s original flair, is extraordinary, and Wood’s and Whitehead’s vocals demand attention. Ensuring the show’s mischievous side doesn’t get washed away in a sea of exposition is Altwies, whose waggish Applegate steals every scene and finally gets a terrific showcase in Act Two’s “Those Were the Good Old Days.”
Though Damn Yankees itself isn’t a championship contender, I’m confident the 5th’s production ensures it won’t be a disappointment either.
Damn Yankees is on stage at the 5th through May 20. Tickets are available for purchase onine.