'Damn Yankees' and four more delightfully strange plays about baseball
It seems like everyone gets a musical these days. "The Wizard of Oz," already a musical, has TWO musical spinoffs ("The Wiz" and "Wicked"). There are musicals about the current president of the United States, at least one past president and even the very founding of the country itself. Plus that little American history-themed musical everyone you know is obsessed with.
But did you know that America's pastime also has a rich history on the stage? Here's a list of five fantastic plays about baseball:
This musical, with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop and music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross is probably the best-known play about baseball that also at one point starred Vincent Price as the devil. Yes, the devil -- as you can guess from the title, this play involves some less-than-savory elements.
Plot in 140 characters or fewer: A Washington Senators fan (this takes place in the '50s) sells his soul to help his favorite team beat the Yankees and win the pennant.
Pretend you've seen it by … ordering a throwback Senators jersey with the name "Hardy" on the back and singing this song every time someone asks you about it:
The Sweetest Swing in Baseball
Who would you say had the sweetest swing in baseball? If you're Rebecca Gilman, the author of this spare drama, you'd go with a certain fruit-themed Met from the past. Yup -- little known utility man Keith Bananandez. OK, that was a joke.
Plot in 140 characters or fewer: A woman enjoying her time in a mental hospital tries to prolong her stay by convincing doctors she thinks she's Darryl Strawberry.
Pretend you've seen it by … talking about how fantastic Gillian Anderson was in it. She originated the main role in the play's first production in London. Mention the part where she painted a chicken playing baseball, because that actually does sound pretty amazing. Fun fact: "The X-Files" actress' name in the play was also Dana.
This musical's book was written by drama critic Joel Siegel, with music and lyrics by Robert Brush and Martin Charnin, respectively. It's wasn't the biggest production Charnin had ever been associated with (that would be "Annie"), but it was the only one featuring a song called "The National Pastime." Despite decent reviews, it only ran for 37 performances and 33 previews in 1981.
Plot in 140 characters or fewer: It's the life story of Jackie Robinson, but with music.
No, you didn't miss Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon breaking out into song -- 2014's "Bull Durham" is a musical adaptation of the 1988 film. Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed the original movie, also wrote the book. The music and lyrics are by Susan Werner.
Plot in a 140 characters or fewer: You know, the plot of "Bull Durham." But with DANCING.
Pretend you've seen it by … learning a dance number from the show, which New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood describes as "the ballplayers twirling their bats like batons."
This musical, with a book by Tony Sportiello and music and lyrics by Al Tapper, was originally performed at the Hall of Fame. Like "Bull Durham," it's also about the Minor Leagues … well, sort of.
Plot in 140 characters or fewer: In 1933, a struggling Iowa radio station invents an unbeatable Minor League team to spark ratings and attract advertisers.
Pretend you've seen it by … making yourself a Baker City Cougars cap -- the fake team from the play. Or, you could campaign to have the finale song, "We Are America," sung at a seventh-inning stretch near you: