By Nate Ogle
Friday night, husband and wife directorial duo Kevin and Pamela McCormack will debut the classic Broadway musical “Damn Yankees” with the McLean Community Players.
Based on Douglass Wallop’s 1954 novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, “Damn Yankees” tells the story of middle-aged real estate agent Joe Hardy, played here by Tim Adams, who sells his soul to the devil to see his Washington Senators win the American League Pennant over the dominant New York Yankees.
Working with the Faustian legend retold through the lens of America’s pastime was an intriguing prospect to co-director Kevin McCormack. Because of the musical’s ensemble feel, McCormack liked the idea of approaching it with the same mindset one would approach a team sport.
“The theme of baseball allows everyone to work as a team for a common goal in the production,” he said.
Working together is nothing new to the McCormacks. This is the duo’s second effort as co-directors on a production. The pair met while working on previous shows for the MCP. Kevin worked as the director, and Pamela did choreography. As the two grew closer in their personal lives, they also developed chemistry at work, leading to the decision to co-direct.
“We found that it was a lot more efficient for us to work as co-directors on projects,” as opposed to director and choreographer, Kevin McCormack said. “It’s a very natural thing for us to collaborate on musicals. We work seamlessly on a given project and we know where each other is going on a theme or a concept.”
The McCormack theatrical partnership is also one of convenience. As community theater is a hobby for the McCormacks, and musicals require a great deal of production and effort, they felt teaming up was an effective way to operate more efficiently.
“It’s a bit easier for us to divvy up the various areas of responsibility in the production,” McCormack said. “My goal is mainly to coordinate on the musical end and help coordinate with the various tech staff individuals. And my wife conceives many of the acting concepts and decides how to put the staging of the musical together.”
For Annie Ermlick, “Damn Yankees” is her first production for MCP and also the first in which she has worked with the McCormacks. In her role as Lola, Ermlick is the damned assistant and partner in crime of devil-in-disguise Mr. Applegate, played by Mike Baker Jr.
Ermlick finds herself calling upon triple threat talents on stage – acting, singing, and dancing for this production. For Ermlick, the McCormacks’ cohesion, production experience, and expertise in the triple threat fields makes the difficult task more manageable.
“Coming in as a cast member, you don’t have to worry about anything but your job as an actor. You know that they are already on the same page. Pam is a director that has a choreographer’s background and Kevin is a director with singer’s background. Where she leaves off, he picks up and vice-versa, so they really complement each other,” Ermlick said. “They have the same mind and they work in the same ways.”
Not only is Damn Yankees a “fun and breezy family production” (for children over 12, that is), the McCormacks have at their disposal a cast of “the most talented group of actors that we have put on stage at one time,” Kevin McCormack said.
“Damn Yankees” runs July 12 – 28. Performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. The play will be performed at the McLean Community Center’s Alden Theatre, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $18 for seniors and students. For more information, visit mcleanplayers.org or call 866-811-4111.