Check your BlackBerry, (damn) Yankee fan.
Quick. Before the show begins.
Playing Kansas City tonight. (Really, they are.)
Jeter get a hit? A-Rod hit No. 600-and-something? Did those (damn) Tampa Bay Rays we're fighting for the division title cut us a break and lose? What about the Red Sox? Hope they got clobbered. Whaddaya mean, why? They're the (damn) Red Sox, that's why. Sheesh!
Then there's the Washington Senators. Wait ... what Washington Senators? Right. The ones onstage.
Singing and dancing instead of pitching and hitting.
"I was an Atlanta Braves fan growing up," says Steve Huntsman, director of "Damn Yankees" by Signature Productions at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. Relax, Yankee fans (including, for full disclosure, this Bronx-born writer). He promises the Yanks' stunning comeback to win the 1996 World Series against Atlanta hasn't affected his direction.
"I've always wanted to do 'Damn Yankees,' " Huntsman says. "It's the only show about baseball that's ever amounted to anything."
Plot? "Damn Yankees" is Faust with fastballs. Set in the 1950s -- when the near-invincible Yanks ruled baseball -- it tells the tale of Joe Boyd, a middle-age, long-suffering fan of the lowly Washington Senators. Sealing a deal with dapper salesman Mr. Applegate, i.e., Satan, Boyd sells his soul in exchange for transforming into youthful slugger Joe Hardy to power his Senators to the pennant.
Will he forfeit the wife he loves by playing in the final game or exercise the only escape clause Applegate provides to walk away and back to the missus? Classic tunes include "Heart" and "Whatever Lola Wants."
Opening in 1955, "Damn Yankees" has seen several revivals that altered elements of the score and the book (including one starring Las Vegan Jerry Lewis in his Broadway debut as Applegate in 1995). Adapted as a movie in 1958, it's set for a remake starring Jim Carrey as Applegate and Jake Gyllenhaal as Joe, the Chicago Cubs replacing the long-gone Senators as the luckless losers.
"We're doing the original version but we've infused some of the revival changes because it's a dated show," Huntsman says, referring to the "slow start" that needs to gallop along, in sync with expectations of contemporary audiences.
"When they did the revival, they put more music where there would normally be more scene. It moves a lot quicker."
Casting the central roles, he adds, afforded him the opportunity to remake that Beelzebub in a suit, the iconic Applegate. "Every time you see the show, it's an older guy playing the devil. My guy is not old, I wanted him to have a sensuality about him. He's got a killer voice and he's African-American, so that's very interesting in the 1950s."
Fulfilling Huntsman's devilish vision is community theater vet Keith Dotson. "It's actually a very hard role to take on," Dotson says. "There are so many intricacies to the devil, so trying to humanize him is the thing. You can play him as a caricature or you can make him real. He's sly and manipulative and kind of nasty, that's the fun part of it."
Stepping into Joe's spikes is Brandon Nix, who cites the story's moral as its crux. "We all have the 'grass is always greener' thing," says Nix, who appeared on the Strip in "We Will Rock You" and toured with "Saturday Night Fever."
"It's like, 'I'd love to be a big star' and you get there and it isn't what you thought it was going to be and you look back at what you had before that you took for granted, and it was much better in the long run."
Unaccustomed to performing in outdoor venues, Nix notes the family vibe and adds: "We had to tame a few things, like the Lola scenes. We'll be rehearsing and it's like, 'No, no, no, can't do that. Gotta remember where we are.' "
Assuming the legendary part originated by Gwen Verdon, local pro Traci Kesisian ("Folies Bergere," "Skintight") gets into the slinky skin of Lola, the devil's concubine and ace homewrecker, assigned to lure Joe away from his spouse.
"It's one of my dream roles -- she gets drama, she gets to be sexy and dance and do one of the great numbers in the history of musical theater," Kesisian says about "Whatever Lola Wants," Broadway's ultimate siren song of seduction.
"I was pleasantly surprised when I posted on Facebook that I was doing this show and how many people said, 'That's my favorite show,' even with people of my generation and younger," says Kesisian, whose husband happens to be --brace for it -- a Yankee fan.
"He's such a hard-core Yankee fan that he even bought me a bunch of Yankee clothing to wear for rehearsal as a joke." Speaking of which ...
Check the BlackBerry. (Damn) Yanks win or lose in K.C.? We in or out of first place?
Hey -- do we look like the (damn) sports section to you?
Contact reporter Steve Bornfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0256.