For most people, Labor Day means picnics, beaches and time to get out the fall wardrobe. For Jerry Lewis, the day traditionally coincides with his annual Muscular Dystrophy Telethon -- which means this year he'll have to take a break from playing Applegate in the London mounting of the Damn Yankees revival. Lewis reportedly signed for a year in the show, with a break for the telethon.
Lewis opened in Damn Yankees June 4 at the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End. This is the same revised version of the 1955 Richard Adler/Jerry Ross musica l played on Broadway 1994-95, and toured the U.S. through spring 1997. His American co-stars are April Nixon (Lola) and John-Michael Flate (Joe).
According to the Wilcox office (the show's former general manager), Damn Yankees will either play to July 4 or July 17 and then break until after Labor Day, then return with Lewis and a British cast. The Stephenson-Salberg office (reached June 13), now handling the show, were not yet ready to announce summer/fall plans for the production, which they expect to be finalized in a week or so.
The George Abbott/Douglas Wallop book transposes the Faust to the world of American baseball in the mid 1950s. A rabid fan of the sad-sack Washington Senators unthinkingly offers to sell his soul to see his team beat the seemingly invincible Yankees. Jerry Lewis plays Satan, here known by the benevolent moniker Mr. Applegate, who takes Joe up on his offer and transforms him personally into the greatest ballplayer in history, Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO. But when Joe realizes that he'll have to leave his beloved wife at the end of the season, he begins looking for an escape clause.
Damn Yankees plays in the theatre recently vacated by Sunset Boulevard. For information call 0171.344.0055.