Millie Veteran Is New Lola in Damn Yankees Concert Set in Era of Negro Leagues

News   Millie Veteran Is New Lola in Damn Yankees Concert Set in Era of Negro Leagues Stephanie Pope Caffey has joined the benefit concert of Damn Yankees that is being set in the Negro Baseball Leagues.

The veteran of Chicago, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Smokey Joe's Café will play one of two Lolas in the musical comedy (Tamara Tunie of Julius Caesar is the other Lola) presented by Amas Musical Theatre.

Caffey replaces Sara Ramirez (Spamalot) in the Nov. 14 evening that supports Amas Musical Theatre, the Manhattan troupe devoted to multicultural musical theatre. The Damn Yankees concert is Amas' third annual Blast From the Past benefit.

Additionally, Darius de Haas is now the solo Joe Hardy in the show. Rodney Hicks has had to withdraw from the concert as the other Joe. Not only is the baseball-set show reimagined for the Negro League era, the concept was to have two Lolas seduce two Joe Hardys. Darius de Haas (Rent, Carousel, Marie Christine) will be ping-ponged between two vixens.

Ira Hawkins (Caroline, or Change) will play the Coach of the Washington Senators.

Jerry Ross and Richard Adler penned the score to the "Faust"-inspired Damn Yankees, which boasts "Whatever Lola Wants" and "Heart." *

The benefit evening will also see actress Leslie Uggams honored with an Amas award.

A 90-minute concert presentation at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in Greenwich Village sets Damn Yankees in the world of the Negro Baseball Leagues, which thrived in the bad old days before the color barrier was broken in major league ball.

Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj will direct and choreograph, with music direction by Charles Creath.

The cast will include Alton F. White (Ragtime, The Lion King) as the devilish Mr. Applegate; Ken Prymus (Cats, Ain't Misbehavin') as Older Joe; Vivian Reed (Marie Christine, Bubbling Brown Sugar) as his wife Meg, Tina Fabrique as Sister and Rob Evan (Jekyll and Hyde, Little Shop of Horrors) as Mr. Welch, with Wayne W. Pretlow, Raun Ruffin, Eric Anthony, Carmen Ruby Floyd, Stacey Sargeant, Christine Clemons, Amber Efe, Britton Jones, Kevin Anthony, Michael A. Blackmon and Delance Minefee.

This is thought to be the first time the show, written by songwriter Jerry Ross and Richard Adler and book writers George Abbott and Douglas Wallop, has been placed in the context of the black baseball world. The original production opened on Broadway in 1955 and starred Gwen Verdon as Lola.

"Setting our concert version of Damn Yankees in the Negro Baseball Leagues is a fresh and unique interpretation of this classic tale of baseball, temptation, second chances, and the power of the human spirit," Trinkoff said in a statement. "No text has been altered except the Washington Senators are now called the 'Black' Washington Senators, and the musical arrangements and dance numbers are unmistakably influenced by African American and Caribbean music of the era. As conceived and directed by our artist-in-residence Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj, this is a show that both breaks new ground and pays homage to the past."

At the concert, Amas will present the "Rosie" Awards (named for Amas founder Rosetta LeNoire) to Tony Award-winner Leslie Uggams (Hallelujah, Baby!, Thoroughly Modern Millie, King Hedley II) and to The JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and will present The Ossie Davis Award for Inspirational Leadership to Brian Cashman, senior vice president and general manager of the New York Yankees. The Rosie Award is given to individuals who demonstrate extraordinary accomplishment and dedication in the theatrical arts and to corporations that work to promote opportunity and diversity.

The late Ossie Davis and his wife Ruby Dee, were recipients of the 2003 Rosie Award. This year's presentation to Brian Cashman marks the first Ossie Davis Award, "given to a key leader of an organization, in any industry, that epitomizes the color-blind search for excellence that has characterized the Amas mission since its founding."

Director, choreographer and performer Maurice Hines will present the awards to this year's honorees.

The Blast from the Past Gala Benefit evening begins at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher Street, at 7 PM, followed by a buffet dinner, auction and raffle at The Garage (99 Seventh Avenue South).

Benefit ticket prices range from $125 (performance only) to $500 (cocktails, premium performance seats and buffet dinner). For tickets, call (212) 563-2565.

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During the benefit evening, the third Rosetta LeNoire Scholarship will also be presented to a deserving college-bound student attending Amas’ arts education program, The Rosetta LeNoire Musical Theatre Academy.

The Amas Blast from the Past Benefit is an annual event held to raise funds in support of Amas Musical Theatre’s ongoing theatre and arts education programs.