OLNEY, Md. (March 9) — It took 60 years, but the talented students at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School now have an actual auditorium for use as a high-end stage for the performing arts.
The Catholic high school in Montgomery County celebrated its 60th anniversary in October, the Good Counsel Talon reported, but from the beginning, financial difficulties prevented an auditorium that was part of the initial design from being built.
“Since the school’s opening in 1958, arts productions and performances have taken place in a variety of non-traditional spaces, including gymnasiums, hallways, courtyards, dining halls, and even a former locker room known as the Falcon Hall at the Wheaton campus,” the school notes in the program booklet for this year’s production of Damn Yankees.
All that is now a part of the past.
The growth of the role of performing arts in our school created a need for a sophisticated space with cutting-edge technology to better serve our students. … Through the remarkable generosity of our donors and the financial commitment of our board of directors, Our Lady of Good Counsel finally has a dream performing arts center that enables our students’ passion, creativity, and talent to take spotlight.
The action opens in the home of Joe and Meg Boyd, and while she loves the Washington Senators and hates the Yankees as much as her husband and his band of friends, she commiserates with her fellow wives about giving up their husbands six months every year, beginning with opening day in April and ending when the Senators fail, once again, to win the pennant because of the titular team from New York.
Joe Boyd (senior Dylan Nguyen) one night makes a deal with the handsome and impeccably dressed devil, known as Mr Applegate (senior Robert Liniak). Joe’s dream has always been to play major league ball for the Senators, but lately, he would be happy if the team could just beat the Yankees and win the pennant. Mr Applegate promises him fulfillment of both dreams, but there’s a catch: he has to walk away from his wife and become a 22-year-old baseball star, Joe Hardy (junior Ian Coursey). Mr Applegate’s partner in crime is a 172-year-old, drop-dead gorgeous homewrecker, Lola (senior Eleanor Whalen), and she makes every effort to seduce Joe Hardy to stay with his life as a star and never return to his former life.
And the stardom, the victories, the impending pennant, the gushing fans, Lola—all that starts to work, except for the fact that Joe’s “heart” has always been in love with Meg (junior Emma Tarquinio). Ultimately, the story is about heart, as proclaimed in the musical number “Heart” (You gotta have heart).
The production at Good Counsel, which is set at times in a locker room, as opposed to being performed in an actual locker room at the Wheaton campus, has made the school’s investment in the auditorium worthwhile in many ways, especially the singing and the choreography. Ms Tarquinio, whose voice truly opened the show, set the stage with commanding certainty and an emphatic declaration that despite a losing record for the Senators and a husband who spends more time at home watching TV than complimenting her cooking, events unfold exactly as they should—as long as one’s heart is in the right place.
Mr Coursey brought a youthful exuberance and bliss to every note. Sure, he was living the life of a baseball star on borrowed time and a cooked-up scandal almost sent him to an eternal hell, but when he was with his teammates, whose dancing included baseball slides and cartwheels on a crowded stage, he conveyed the eternal optimism seen in so many lifelong fans of losing teams.
Mr Liniak and Ms Whalen, whose characters are perhaps the most challenging in this play, at least for high school students, maintained that devilish seduction in their eyes and body language while belting out tunes like “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Two Lost Souls.”
Finally, much of the highest-energy choreography on Maryland stages this year—gymnastics, some ballet, and lots of sophisticated blocking—came during a number that included a reporter (sophomore Rachel Kilgallon), whose role in getting to the bottom of Mr Applegate’s plot for Joe’s soul underscores how entrenched sports writers and broadcasters are in our lives, helping us enjoy sports and elevating the importance of sports stars.
Book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. In performance at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Md., Saturday and Sunday, March 8–9, 15–16. Directed by Kristina Friedgen (who wrote that this would be her last production at Good Counsel), Reenie Codelka (vocals), and Richard Slocum (orchestra, which included two students). The show can be rated PG-13, owing to its use of seduction, sexuality, smoking, and the supernatural.