Monday, December 1, 2014

Memo From the RTC: Damn Yankees Finale – Yea Team!

My column from The Wave this past Friday, November 28, 2014 on the closing weekend of November 21 when we did 4 shows in 3 days. Not heavy lifting for me but a big task for the key actors. That morning we took down the set to bare stage, always somewhat sad. This Thursday we start building the set for the first upcoming children's show at the end of January. RTC, in addition to producing 2 children shows will do 5 adult shows, including Guys and Dolls in July and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest in November 2015.

Memo From the RTC: Damn Yankees Finale – Yea Team!
By Norm Scott
Published at, Nov. 28, 2014

So the Damn Yankees crew got through 4 performances last weekend, including a grueling double header matinee-evening (both sold-out shows) on Saturday. With one show ending at 6PM and the next beginning at 8PM there was just enough time to scarf down the chow generously provided. As I left the theater at 11:30 there went most of the young crew out to eat and party together. Oh, youth. And back again on Sunday afternoon for the finale. And after cleaning out all the cubbies and putting away costumes and making it look pristine backstage, it was time for the cast party and some great food, followed by the yutes (as Cousin Vinny would say) getting onstage and dancing and singing and just carrying on for hours. When I left around 8:30 they were still going strong. They even managed to pull me on for a reprise of a number we did in How to Succeed…. After which I left huffing and puffing. How did I get so old so fast?

With two people playing the Devil (RTC standby John Panepinto and Michael Whelan) and Lola (also RTC standby Katherine Robinson and Erika Brito), there were four combinations of the different actors interacting and I taped all of them. Each combination provided a different wrinkle on the performance. It was fascinating to see how John and Michael and Katherine and Erika brought their own interpretations to the roles, which made each performance different.

Michael and Erika are newcomers to the RTC and were welcomed into the fold with enthusiasm, as was fellow newcomer Daniel Valez, who did a great job as young Joe Hardy and had to do many scenes with all four actors, in addition to many scenes with Jodee Timpone, playing Meg (his wife in his previous incarnation as Joe Boyd). And Danny also had to do scenes with the guys on the team, a cast of seemingly thousands – if you were backstage as they stampeded into the dressing room for costume changes. What guts for Director John Gilleece and Producer Susan Jasper to entrust the three most important roles in the play to newcomers. And the gamble paid off handsomely as the RTC has added to its immense stable of talent.

And then there were the wonderful kids of all ages from the young ones starting at 7 through the tweens at 20, many with deep theater resumes, at least 3 of whom attend our local Scholars’ Academy, another who goes to LaGuardia HS and another at the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan. What an up and coming crew for the next generation of RTC performers.

Since Damn Yankees is about the coming together of a baseball team, we also witnessed the coming together of the RTC team around this production. While many old standbys were in the cast, there were also a number of newcomers who may have felt a bit out of the loop at first. But by Sunday night everyone was part of one big happy family, a family I am proud to be part of. This week Tony Homsey, who played a fellow reporter with Curtis Wanderer and me, will lead his own team in taking down the to bare stage for the next RTC production.

This will be the final Memo from RTC column of the year, which will resume in mid-January for the upcoming children’s productions of Seussical Jr. and Legally Blonde Jr. Have a great holiday season.

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