The 2nd Star folks have hit one out of the park - Whitemarsh Park, that is - with their current production of Damn Yankees, playing weekends through June 26 at Bowie Playhouse.
Winner of numerous awards for its musicals, 2nd Star won the coveted Ruby Griffith Award for last season's spectacular Mame.
This production of the classic feel-good show has winner written all over it: from the great tunes delivered by terrific pit musicians, to the spirited chorus and soloists on stage, to the champion execution of fantastic choreography, and finally to a strong cast from top to bottom.
Damn Yankees, with words and music by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler, is set in the mid-1950s, when fans loved baseball and many hated the winning New York Yankees.
Middle-aged Washington Senators fan Joe Boyd makes a Faustian pact with the devilish Mr. Applegate that transforms Boyd into a great, young player named Joe Hardy, who soon leads the Senators in hitting and pitching.
Although winning games is great, Joe is homesick and misses his wife, Meg, so much that Applegate summons super-seductress Lola from below to help him forget.
The opening scene at Bowie Playhouse in Whitemarsh Park reveals the Boyds' cozy living room, where Bob Brewer and Julie Silvestro Waite as Joe and Meg Boyd watch a televised Washington Senators game - with Joe so immersed in the action that he hears little of what Meg says.
The couple are soon joined by neighbors for a rousing rendition of "Six Months Out Of Every Year," where wives bemoan their fate during baseball season. The chorus' spirited delivery of this tune signals the great fun that follows.
After Brewer and Waite's excellent singing of the sentimental "Goodbye, Old Girl," the scene shifts to the Senators' locker room, where Manager Van Buren offers his team a pep talk.
As the beleaguered Van Buren, Jonathan Glickman creates pure stage magic, imbuing his character with the charm of Jimmy Durante. Glickman breathes new life into the classic song Heart, which is ably aided by the chorus of lovable lugs.
Among this crew of extraordinary players, Jeff Hitaffer as Rocky is a standout, delivering laughs, great singing and fantastic dancing.
Choreographer Vicki Smith lends her magic to this show, culling electric energy from the ball team that has the players turning cartwheels and monkey rolls like kids. Smith also creates magic for Hana Thornhill's Lola.
Director Jane B. Wingard has assembled an excellent cast and drawn first-rate performances from all of them. She receives much help from choreographer Smith and musical director Donald K. Smith.
H. Gregory Martin makes a memorable 2nd Star debut as Applegate, obviously relishing the role, especially when matching wits with Joe and trying to manipulate sexy Lola.
As Lola, 17-year-old Thornhill reveals strong comedic talents and extraordinary dancing skills - and she looks fabulous in every costume.
Tanya Swire does well in the role of reporter Gloria Thorpe, as does just about everybody in this show.
Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through June 26. Tickets are $17 for general admission and $14 for seniors and students. Reservations: 410-757-5700.