Kelly Oury and Johnathan Hicks Joe Boyd can’t take it anymore. Those damn Yankees are beating his lowly Washington Senators yet again, and he would sell his soul to change the course of the baseball season. Enter Mr. Applegate, a.k.a. the Devil, who has the power to make such a deal. He can turn middle-aged Joe Boyd into a young baseball superstar who will burst on the scene under the alias Joe Hardy and lead the Senators over the Yankees. But is that really worth his soul? Or a life without his wife?

Director Tammy Franklin and her Rising Curtain Theatre & Dance Company in Denver capture the comedy and especially the heart of this musical with their production. That heart is centered in the Boyd home, where every movement and subtle expression by baseball widow Meg (Ariel Ellis) makes her love and loyalty to her husband palpable, all while capturing the role’s comedy as well. As Joe Boyd, Elliot Clough begins as a callous husband who has grown to take his wife for granted, but his tender regret upon leaving her to make the deal with the devil is nicely portrayed. And his return in an effort to comfort Meg as the young Joe Hardy (Johnathan Hicks) is a powerful duet beautifully sung by Johnathan and a wistful Ariel who is heartbroken but trying to hold onto hope that her husband will come back home.

Johnathan Hicks is a meek and humble Joe Hardy who would appear to be in trouble in his dealing with Mr. Applegate and his assistant, “a very nice girl from Chicago” named Lola. Isaiah Farago is a cool and relaxed Mr. Applegate whose confidence in his deal, and in his assistant, slowly begins to waver. He shines in his nostalgic solo Those Were the Gold Old Days that includes some suave tap moves (especially for a beginner) choreographed by Jaclyn O’Hara and spiced up with some moonwalking and a little baton twirling with his cane.

Whether he’s happy with the performance of his assistant or not, Lola deserves to get Whatever Lola Wants with Kelly Oury’s sensational performance – first as the cocky and seductive Lola who makes a hilarious play for a terrified Joe Hardy, and later as Isaiah Farago the genuinely moved Lola who is touched by Joe’s love for his wife, regretful for how her existence has played out, and hopeful that Joe gets back to Meg no matter what Mr. Applegate’s wrath may hold (which includes some taunting that she’s losing her touch after 172 years).

Other good performances come from Hannah Jenkins and Jaclyn O’Hara as Meg’s amusing baseball- and men-obsessed friends, Nick DeWitt as a gruffly comical owner of the ball club, and Geoffrey Lohr and Tony DeWitt leading a great bunch of ballplayers in (You’ve Gotta Have) Heart and about choosing The Game over the dames. And then there’s the mega-watt talent Janelle Orsborn as the dynamic, clever, and saucy reporter Gloria Thorpe who leads the great cast in energetic celebration (choreographed by Gail DeWitt) of the newly discovered Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO, but who then starts digging into Joe Hardy’s damn mysterious past. A dig that may determine the direction of Joe’s soul and, of course, the entire baseball season.

Performs April 13-21, 2007.

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Joe Boyd: Elliot Clough
Meg Boyd: Ariel Ellis
Mr. Applegate: Isaiah Farago
Sister: Hannah Jenkins
Doris: Jaclyn O'Hara
Joe Hardy: Jonathan Hicks
Ballplayers/Men's Chorus:
Nick DeWitt
Tony DeWitt
Christopher Lohr
Nathan Lohr
Elliot Clough
Sean Moritzky
Robert O'Hara
Kayla Frantz
Laurel Ellis
Coach Van Buren: Geoffrey Lohr
Gloria Thorpe: Janelle Orsborn
Mr. Welch: Nick DeWitt
Lola: Kelly Oury
Eddie: Tony DeWitt
Miss Weston: Becky Moritzky
Lynch: Shelby Siert
Ariel Ellis and Elliot CloughCommissioner: Sean Moritzky
Postmaster: Robert O'Hara
Guard: Elliot Clough
Ladies Chorus:
Laurel Ellis
Anneliese Farmer
Kayla Frantz
Caitlin Hardcastle
Cassie McCollum
Danielle McDonald
Elizabeth McDonald
Becky Moritzky
Ally Pines
Shelby Siert
Amanda Wittek

Director: Tammy Franklin
Choreographer: Gail DeWitt
Musical Director/Accompanist: Sheri Despain
Technical Direction: Eric Franklin
Student Choreographer "Heart": Ariel Ellis
Student Choreographer "Those Were the Good Old Days": Jaclyn O'Hara
Costumes: Kay Nice


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