CLO’s ‘Damn Yankees’ At the Plate; TACT Theater Staging ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’ and ‘Not I’ (Wed., 7/6/16)


1) Would you root for a baseball player who sold his soul to the Devil? And we’re not talking about performance-enhancing drugs, we mean a guy who makes a real deal with the Prince of Darkness for the ability to hit the long ball, as lead character Joe Hardy does in Damn Yankees, winner of the 1956 Tony Award for Best Musical. Pittsburgh CLO is staging a revival of Damn Yankees to inject some post-Fourth-of-July pop into its summer lineup. The story portrays Joe as the mysterious new star of a chronic underdog team, the Washington Senators of the 1950s. Dramatic tensions (and much humor) arise from the question: Can Joe help the Senators finally beat the damn New York Yankees for the pennant, and wiggle out of his Satanic contract? But the show is best known for its musical numbers, of which two became stand-alone hits: “You Gotta Have Heart”—the clip above is from the 1958 movie—and “Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets),” sung and danced by the Devil’s assistant temptress-in-chief. Damn Yankees was composed by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop. How’s that for a home-run name? 8 p.m. Performances through July 10. At Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (MV)


2) It should make for a memorable evening when TACT, a theater company that’s new on the radar, performs two short pieces by Samuel Beckett, known on most people’s radar as the author of Waiting for Godot. The items on the TACT bill, Krapp’s Last Tape and Not I, are one-person one-acts. Krapp’s Last Tape runs about 40-odd minutes and like Godot, it is odd but accessible—easy to follow, though the meaning(s) may be elusive, and funny in a seriously absurd way. An old man listens to a tape recording of thoughts and observations that he made when much younger, then records a new tape, trying to update and correct his life’s story. Topics addressed include bananas (the actual yellow fruit) and glimmers of love. If you wanted the ideal Pittsburgh actor to play Krapp you’d think “Hmm, Martin Giles?” and you would be right. Daina Michelle Griffith plays the unnamed woman in Not I, a shorter and much stranger piece about which it is best to know nothing in advance. Suffice it to say that the Not I woman is one of the weirdest roles to perform, or to watch. 8 p.m. Runs through July 9.At the New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square East, North Side. (MV)


3) Free State of Jones Say hello to the first Oscar-Bait movie of the season. It’s based on an episode from America’s past that, truth be told, is heavily clouded over with controversy. There’s lots of different versions running around, but here’s a précis of the legend that the movie will propound. In the midst of the Civil War, Jones County in Mississippi seceded from the Confederacy, proclaiming it was rejoining the Union. A few years later, a Jones farmer named Newton Knight led several fellow farmers and local slaves in an armed battle against the boys in gray. Jones County became a mixed-race community and Knight married a former slave. Los Angeles show biz types, who love to make films about white people saving black people and then congratulate themselves for it, are already drooling! Gary Ross wrote the screenplay and directs a cast which includes Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell, Mahershala Ali, and Brendan Gleeson. Check Fandango for screens and times. (TH)

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Rick Handler

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