The UK tour of Damn Yankees left London's Adelphi Theatre Aug. 24, so Jerry Lewis could run his annual Labor Day Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, but he and the show were scheduled to come back Oct. 11, with an official reopening roughly a week later at the Savoy Theatre (later changed to the Victoria Palace Theatre).
In a Sept. 18 press release, producers Mitchell and Victoria Maxwell announced that the Victoria Palace re-opening "has been delayed indefinitely [because] funding lined up for the relaunch...had fallen through at the eleventh hour. It is with great regret that Mr. Maxwell made this decision."
[The funding problem has also delayed, but not canceled, another Maxwell project: Play On! in the West End, due late this year or in early 1998.]
According to the Albemarle's of London website, which first reported the story, another reason given for the cancellation was that four weeks wasn't enough time to mount a reasonable advertising campaign. Also, Damn Yankees was selling only 60 percent at the Adelphi.
Not that Damn Yankees has struck out -- far from it. The show is planning a world tour in 1998 with a swing back to the U.S. In late `98 or early 1999. The Maxwells aren't yet sure where the UK would fit into that schedule. Plans for the reopening (with a mostly British cast) were to include three American performers, including Joy Franz and Dennis Kelly.
This Damn Yankees is the same revised version of the 1955 Richard Adler/Jerry Ross musical that played on Broadway 1994-95 and toured the U.S. through spring 1997. Lewis' American co-stars before the Labor Day break included April Nixon (Lola) and John Michael Flate (Joe). Lewis reportedly signed for a year in the show, with a break for the telethon. He opened in Damn Yankees June 4.
The George Abbott/Douglas Wallop book transposes the Faust legend 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 he'll have to leave his beloved wife at the end of the season, he begins looking for an escape clause.