Damn Yankees, Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. Director David H. Bell clearly trusts the power of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross's 1952 Broadway classic, an invigorating graft of the Faust legend onto the national pastime. Middle-aged baseball fanatic Joe Boyd sells his soul to regain his youth and help his beloved Washington Senators win a pennant race against the despised Yankees. This splendid sellout--Joe's batting average becomes .666--saves the season and his marriage.
There's hardly a foul ball in Bell's faithful restoration. And unlike the recent Broadway revival, it doesn't rush the story to an abrupt conclusion. Never condescending to the accessible characters, this staging also downplays any smarminess. As the temptress Lola, Mary MacLeod is as decent as the job permits--and she's a worthy Gwen Verdon successor in the slinky Bob Fosse dance duets "Who's Got the Pain" and "Two Lost Souls." Dirk Lumbard's wickedly efficient devil never steals focus (as Jerry Lewis did), and he taps up a tempest in "Those Were the Good Old Days."
The mortals are richly depicted by Don Forston as Joe, Paula Scrofano as his unquestioning helpmate, and Sean Allan Krill as the young Joe: he may not look 22, but he sings the heart out of his character's beautiful ballads. The big blessing, however, is the hard-hoofing ensemble: directed by Bell and Lainie Sakakura, the dances are a joyful force of nature. A special treat: the first-act finale is now a gospel version of "Heart" showcasing the powers of Felicia P. Fields.