Look Back at the Original Production of Damn Yankees on Broadway

From the Archives   Look Back at the Original Production of Damn Yankees on Broadway
The Tony Award-winning musical, starring Gwen Verdon and Stephen Douglass, opened at the 46th Street Theatre May 5, 1955.
Ray Walston and Gwen Verdon ©NYPL for the Performing Arts

The original Broadway production of Damn Yankees opened at the 46th Street Theatre on May 5, 1955. The Golden Age musical, starring Gwen Verdon and Stephen Douglass, would go on to be nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning 8 including Best Musical and Best Actress in a musical for Verdon. The production, directed by George Abbott with choreography by Bob Fosse, played for 1,019 performances before closing October 12, 1957.

With music and lyrics by Jerry Ross and Richard Adler and a book by Abbott and Douglass Wallop, Damn Yankees tells the story of a middle-aged man who sells his soul to the devil to become a baseball player to help his beloved Washington Senators beat the Yankees in the World Series. But despite the devil's best attempts—including bringing on the sexy Lola—to keep him under his sway, the man ultimately wants to return to his wife.

In addition to Verdon as Lola and Douglass as Joe Hardy, Damn Yankees starred Ray Walston as Applegate, Rae Allen as Gloria Thorpe, Richard Bishop as Welch, Shannon Bolin as Meg Boyd, Russ Brown as Van Buren, Nathaniel Frey as Smokey, Elizabeth Howell as Doris, Jimmie Komack as Rocky, and Robert Shafer as Joe Boyd alongside Frank Bouley, Fred Bryan, Betty Carr, Ronn Cummins, Cherry Davis, Robert Evans, Timmy Everett, Patricia Ferrier, Jeanne Grant, Maryln Greer, Janet Hayes, Del Horstmann, Elizabeth Howell, Janie Janvier, William Joyce, Harvey Jung, Joan Keenan, Marie Kolin, Al Lanti, Albert Linville, Suzanne Lovell, Ralph Lowe, George Marcy, Julia Marlowe, Svetlana McLee, Eddie Phillips, Jackie Scholle, Jean Stapleton, Ralph Strane, and Mark Ward.

The original production featured scenic and costume design by William and Jean Eckart and sound design by Harry Green with stage management by James Hammerstein, Fred Hearn, and Robert Evans. Visit the Playbill Vault for the complete cast and creative team.

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