Lia Chang: Andre Dé Shields is having a Devilishly Good Time in Damn Yankees at The John W. Engeman Theater at Northport
Andre Dé Shields
L to R: Austin Miller as Joe Hardy and Andre Dé Shields as Applegate in Damn Yankees, currently playing at The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport through August 29, 2010. © Paul DeGrocco
is having a devilishly good time leading the cast of Damn Yankees
with Felcia Finley as the sultry temptress Lola and Austin Miller as handsome ace rookie Joe Hardy, at The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport. I thoroughly enjoyed this top notch production of the multiple Tony-award winning 1955 musical, seamlessly helmed by John Simpkins, and featuring musical direction by Mark Hartman and choreography by Stephanie Lang. Michael Schweikardt sets, Michelle Eden Humphrey’s costumes and Mark Adam Rampmeyer’s hair and wig designs, are spot on in evoking a 1950’s nostalgic air for Damn Yankees
, which takes place in Washington D.C. at a time when the New York Yankees dominated baseball. The musical features words and music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, and a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop. Damn Yankees
, produced for the John W. Engeman Theater by Richard T. Dolce, the theater’s Producing Artistic Director, has performances through August 29, 2010.
L to R: Felicia Finley and Austin Miller in Damn Yankees, currently playing at The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport through August 29, 2010. © Paul DeGrocco
The set up of this Faustian tale is simple: Joe Boyd (Scott Davidson), a middle-aged, happily married baseball fan is despondent over the losing streak of his favorite team, the Washington Senators. When Joe ruminates that he would give anything to see them win against the New York Yankees, the devil appears in the form of Applegate (De Shields
), who suggests he might be willing to trade his soul if the Senators won not only the pennant but also the World Series. Joe wisely suggests an out clause, and is transformed into Joe Hardy (Austin Miller), a young baseball phenom that upon joining the Washington Senators, leads the team to one victory after another. Even though Joe is happy about the winning streak, he misses his wife and has misgivings. Applegate summons reinforcement in the form of Lola and her sexy moves, to capture his heart.
L to R: James Lee Glatz; Zander Meisner; Jason 'SweetTooth' Williams; Bronson N. Murphy; Stephen Berger; Freddie Kimmel; Jeremy Morse; Andrew Leggieri in Damn Yankees, currently playing at The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport through August 29, 2010. © Paul DeGrocco
The fine cast features Stephen Berger as Coach Van Buren, Scott Davidson as Joe Boyd, Jan Leigh Herndon as Meg, Rebecca Kupka Overton as Gloria Thorpe, and is rounded out by William C. Bailey, Solomon Buchman, Amanda Trusty, Rebecca Stavis, Bronson N. Murphy, James Lee Glatz, James Erickson, Jeremy Morse, Zander Meisner, Andrew Leggieri, Amy Jane Finnerty, Kristen da Costa, Ashley Chasteen, Jason “Sweet Tooth” Williams and Freddie Kimmel.
Andre De Shields as Applegate in Damn Yankees, currently playing at The John W. Engeman Theater in Northport through August 29, 2010. © Paul DeGrocco
, in his element raising hell as the charming and slyly seductive Applegate, had the audience spellbound during his rendition of his musical number “Those Were The Good Old Days.”
In a career that has spanned four decades, De Shields is best known for his electrifying performances in the original Broadway productions of The Wiz in 1975 (title role), Ain’t Misbehavin’ in 1978 (Drama Desk nomination), Play On! in 1997 (Tony nomination) and The Full Monty in 2000, for which he received Tony, Drama Desk and Astaire Award nominations, in addition to both the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards. His other Broadway credits include an autobiographical revue, Haarlem Nocturne, and the world premier of two new American plays: Mark Medoff’s Prymate (Drama Desk nomination) and Michael Jacob’s Impressionism, with Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen. He is the recipient of the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival’s Living Legend Award, the 2007 Village Voice OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance and the 2009 AUDELCO Award for Outstanding Performance in a Musical/Male. He won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Achievement for his performance in the 1982 NBC broadcast of Ain’t Misbehavin’.
Andre Dé Shields in his New York apartment in 2009. Photo by Lia Chang
New York theatre audiences have seen De Shields
in productions as varied as Cato
at The Flea, Neil Simon’s The Good Doctor
at the Melting Pot Theatre, Let Me Sing
at The George Street Playhouse, Lonnie Carter’s The Gulliver Trilogy
at La MaMa e.t.c. and his solo work-in-progress Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: From Douglass to Deliverance
at The Abingdon Theatre about abolitionist Frederick Douglass. At the Classical Theatre of Harlem, he has been seen as Makak in Derek Walcott’s Dream On Monkey Mountain
, in the title roles of Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe
and King Lear
, directed by Alfred Preisser
. Regional audiences have witnessed him as Henry Drummond in Inherit The Wind
, Willy Loman in Death Of A Salesman
, Sheridan Whiteside in The Man Who Came To Dinner
, Scott Joplin in Tin Pan Alley Rag
, Vladimir in Waiting for Godot
, Jacob Strand in Ibsen’s Ghosts
(starring Jane Alexander), and the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town
Damn Yankees has performances Thursdays at 8:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 3:00 p.m., Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Starting July 25, there will be performances on Sunday evenings at 7:00 p.m. Additionally, there will be performances on Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m., starting August 4.
Tickets are $60, and can be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, by visiting the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street in Northport, or online at www.engemantheater.com.
Theatermania.com Kathleen Chalfant, André De Shields, Michael Greif, Moisés Kaufman, et al. Part of Tony Awards Nominating Committee
variety.com Greif, Kaufman join Tony nominators
theatermania.com Andre De Shields and Felicia Finley discuss starring in the John W. Engeman Theater’s production of Damn Yankees.
Nantucket Island Inquirer: One-man show channels abolitionist Frederick Douglass
broadwayworld.com De Shields’ MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY Comes To TWN 7/12
The National: Acting the Part
Multimedia: Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory: From Douglass to Deliverance Opening Night Photos: Andre De Shields, Mercedes Ellington and Alfred Preisser
Achieving the American Dream, Professional Charmer Andre De Shields Sees Theater is a Way to Life
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Lia Chang is an actor, performance and fine art botanical photographer and an award-winning multimedia journalist.
Photo by Lia Chang
As a photographer and videographer, Lia is frequently tapped to collaborate with artists, organizations and companies in establishing their documentary photo archive. She has been documenting her colleagues and contemporaries in the arts, fashion and journalism since making her stage debut as Liat in the National Tour of South Pacific, with Robert Goulet and Barbara Eden.
Lia’s portraits and performance photos have appeared in Vanity Fair, Gourmet, German Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, The Paris Review, VIBE, TV Guide, Daily Variety, Interior Design, American Theatre, Life & Style, OUT, New York Magazine, InStyle, Timeout.com, Villagevoice.com, Playbill.com, Theatermania.com, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, USA Today, The Boston Globe, New York Times and Washington Post. A former syndicated arts and entertainment columnist for KYODO News, Lia is the New York Bureau Chief for AsianConnections.com. She writes about culture, style and Asian American issues for a variety of publications and this Backstage Pass with Lia Chang blog. In July, selections of Lia’s archive of Asian Pacific Americans in the arts, fashion, journalism, politics and space will become part of THE LIA CHANG THEATER PORTFOLIO in the ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS COLLECTION housed in the Library of Congress Asian Division’s Asian American Pacific Islander Collection.