High Point students to perform 'Damn Yankees'

| 08 Apr 2014 | 05:55

SUSSEX — “It’s all about baseball,” says Director Theresa Riccardi of the 15th musical she has directed at High Point Regional High School.

“In fact, it’s the only musical out there that is actually about the sport,” she said.

With a cast of 52, since auditions in December and a rehearsal period of about 3 1/2 months, the director said everyone has worked really hard.

The show is about middle-aged Joe Boyd, played by sophomore Nathan Stillings, 16, of Wantage, a die-hard Washington Senators fan during the 1950s.

“He desperately would love to see his team win and especially, to see them beat their biggest rival, the New York Yankees,” Riccardi said.

The original Broadway production of Damn Yankees was choreographed by Bob Fosse, and Riccardi said there is a lot of Fosse-inspired dancing in High Point’s production. The show was choreographed by Hamburg Dance Expression owner and director Lisa Simko Schumann, who has choreographed 14 out of the 15 musicals Riccardi has directed at the school.

This is senior Byong-Ho Lee, 17, of Sussex’s third production as stage manager.

“It’s amazing," Lee said. "My crew works so hard, and the cast is very cooperative. Seeing the growth of the cast and crew from beginning to end has made me so proud.”

Riccardi says the greatest challenge the cast has had to overcome has been the weather.

“We lost a number of rehearsals because of the snow, but the cast has really worked hard and triumphed," she said. "They weren’t about to let anything stop them from doing a great job.”

Junior Samuel Morisson, 17, of Sussex plays the lead, Joe Hardy, in his sixth show at High Point.

“This is the biggest commitment in my life right now, other than breathing,” he said.

Morisson’s character is the 22-year-old baseball player and alter ego of Joe Boyd.

“One night, after the Senators lose to the Yankees, Joe Boyd says, ‘I’d sell my soul for one long ball-hitter for the Washington Senators.’ Lo and behold, Satan shows up and Joe makes a deal with him. He becomes this young, athletic guy and the greatest baseball player in the country," Morrison said. "You’ll have to come see the show to find out what happens next!

Morrison said he loved his character but the most challenging part was trying to portray an old man in a young person's body.

Branchville resident sophomore Isiah Palovitz, 16, plays the Devil.

“Playing Mr. Applegate, Satan’s alias, is fun because I can find a lot of ties to my actual personality," Palovitz said. "Everyone has a little devious moment now and then, and I enjoy being mischievous.

In his first time playing a villain, Palowitz said his character makes a deal with Joe Boyd in exchange for his soul, but there is an escape clause. The Senators' last game is Sept. 25 and Hardy has until 9 p.m. the night before the last game to walk away from the deal and return to his normal life.

"Applegate’s goal is to trick Joe Hardy into missing his deadline,” Palowitz said.

Senior Veronica Wask, 17, of Wantage plays the Devil’s right-hand woman, Lola. Her fourth show at High Point, Wask says she’s very excited to have gotten the part. “This is one of my first big roles, and she’s so different," Wask said. "She knows she’s great at her job — all the boys want her, and all the girls want to be her.”

Dancing and singing all through high school as a featured dancer in all of High Point’s musicals and a four-year member of both chorus and High Point’s prestigious Chambers Choir, Wask says, it has definitely paid off and led her to this role.

“The hardest part for me was getting to the point of being as confident as my character," she said. "With the help of my directors, I broke out of my shell. I’m very grateful to them. We have such an incredible cast, and I’m so honored to be a part of it. This musical is a great note to leave on.”

Performances are this Friday, April 11th and Saturday, April 12th at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 13th at 2 p.m. Tickets — $12.00 for adults and $10.00 for students, senior citizens and children — will be sold at the door. Senior citizen tickets are free on Sunday for the matinee show.