1955, May 5 – PREMIERE OF “DAMN YANKEES”

Lola sells her soul to the devil to become a beautiful woman but now she must seduce Joe the major league hitter  for the Washington Senators….she tries lure him by singing the sexy tango “Whatever Lola Wants Lola Gets”; it is perhaps the most memorable scene in the play…”Damn Yankees”, a baseball based retelling of the Faustian legend inspired partly by Rodolfo Valentino, is based on a novel by Douglass Wallop, “The Year The Yankees Lost the Pennant”…Wallop was inspired by the fact that in the 50s the New York Yankees dominated major league baseball …this musical comedy opened on May 5, 1955 on Broadway at the 46th Street Theater…the critics were effusive in their praise but it was not particularly selling well until producer George Abbot changed the ads; he had Gwen Verdon, who plays Lola, appear in a sexy see-through outfit instead of a baseball uniform…the musical became a great hit; it ran for three years for a total of 1019 performances…it won the Tony Award for best musical and best composer and lyricist…it has had numerous revivals

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The music for “Damn Yankees” was composed by Richard Adler and the lyrics were written by Jerry Ross…a bright future was predicted for the duo but Jerry Ross died of a respiratory disease a few months before “Damn Yankees” opened, at the age of twenty-nine years old..he was, however, extremely productive in his short life; he wrote or co-wrote over 250 songs…Gwen Verdon, was not the first choice for the lead as the seductive temptress and the producers took a chance on her…it is on the set of Damn Yankees that she met legendary choreographer Bob Fosse who would become her husband; in 1987 she would hold Fosse in her arms as he was dying of a heart attack on a Washington side walk…In 1975, Bob Foss would direct the musical “Chicago” which had another hit tango “Cell Block Tango”….Bob Fosse was scheduled to direct the film version of Chicago in 2002 which won six academy awards including “Best Picture”….”Whatever Lola Wants” would be a great hit for the mythical Sarah Vaughan in the 1950s

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  1. May 13th, 2011

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