‘Damn Yankees’ coming to town

Charles Hallman, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder 6/11/15

The Tony Award musical Damn Yankees is coming to town for a two-week engagement June 16-28 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in downtown St. Paul.

Damn Yankees first premiered on Broadway in 1955, then later as a 1958 film and a 1967 U.S. television special. The story is about an aging baseball fanatic in the 1950s who turns into a young star slugger after making a deal with the Devil to help his favorite team beat the New York Yankees. The Yankees dominated baseball at the time.

Among the show’s memorable songs are: “Heart” and “Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets.” The Ordway production stars Lawrence Clayton as Joe Boyd, and Thay Floyd as Joe Hardy, the younger Boyd.

The MSR exclusively talked to Clayton after his appearance at the June 7 Winfield Awards Banquet in St. Paul, where he sang Louis Armstrong’s classic “What a Wonderful World.”

When asked if there are any challenges playing a role that historically have been staged by White male actors Clayton said, “It’s a nice twist in the story. It’s not a color or race issue at all,” said Clayton. “I’m going to give my take on it. I think it works.”

Clayton’s credits include stage performances in Jesus Christ Superstar and single-episode appearances in such television shows as The Good Wife and Homeland, and in soaps (Another World, As the World Turns and One Life to Live).

“We are trying to tell the story as best we can to see the humanity of these people,” continued Clayton on his first Ordway appearance. “What makes a person sell his soul? Some of us want to be a star or want to be on a television show. We [all] are motivated by something. [The Boyd character] is an aging baseball freak who gets a chance to see what it could have been.”

Finally after his two-week Ordway run, Clayton says he’ll head back to New York to prepare for future singing performances. “I have some concerts lined up in North Carolina and Georgia” in the fall, he said. “Then I go back and start auditioning again for the next [acting] gig.”

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