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While the 2019 Major League Baseball season ended with the Washington Nationals winning the World Series, the game is in full swing in Ellicott City, where the Mt. Hebron High School theater department is presenting “Damn Yankees.”

A musical comedy that opened on Broadway in 1955, “Damn Yankees” tells of one man’s pact with the devil to help his beloved team, the Washington Senators, achieve success in a game dominated by the New York Yankees in the 1950s. Filled with classic songs by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, including “Heart” and “Goodbye Old Girl,” lots of dance and baseball, the musical is one of the school show’s director Tom Sankey’s favorites.

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“I’ve always loved baseball and musicals,” said Sankey, a math teacher at Mt. Hebron. “This is the perfect show for me. It’s really hard to get the songs out of your head.”

For Kathryn Carlsen, co-director, the show is her first at Mt. Hebron.

“It’s a pleasure,” Carlsen said. “I get to work with the wonderful Tom Sankey.”

Sankey has been directing shows at Mt. Hebron since 1980. He is thrilled to have Carlsen as co-director.

“We have the same vision on how to work with kids and how kids should be treated,” Sankey said. “That’s something special.”

While most high school theater departments present musicals during the spring season to allow for more rehearsal time, Sankey and Carlsen jumped headfirst into the fall season with a show that has over 70 students involved.

“We knew we could do it,” Carlsen said.

“We hit the ground running,” Sankey said.

Haley Miller plays Meg Boyd in "Damn Yankees" during Monday's dress rehearsal at Mt. Hebron.
Haley Miller plays Meg Boyd in "Damn Yankees" during Monday's dress rehearsal at Mt. Hebron. (Nicole Munchel for the Baltimore/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Auditions were in the summer. with rehearsals beginning in August.

“Before school even started, we were working on the show,” said Joe Nolan, 17, who has the role of Mr. Applegate, aka the Devil.

“There’s a lot you can do with it, a lot to play with,” Nolan said. “It’s a challenge not to like him, because he is the devil.”

While the role is fun, the show has become one of his favorites, too.

“There is something special about this show,” Nolan said. “The cast has come together so well. The person who sells his soul to me, we have acted together for years and it is tons of fun.”

Nick Brogan, 18, has the role of Joe Hardy, the baseball star the middle-aged fan Joe Boyd becomes after he sells his soul to the devil.

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“A lot of the characters are very dynamic,” Brogan said. “We’ve put so much work into the characters.”

Brogan even practiced his swing with baseball players.

“I don’t play baseball, so I was asking, ‘How’s my stance?’ And ‘Make sure my swing is right,’ ” Brogan said. “I want to make it seem as authentic as possible.”

Behind the scenes, Andrea Sicoli, head technician, was supervising the setup of chairs, marking the stage and a variety of other tasks.

“We have those to know exactly what we have to do,” Sicoli, 17, said, nodding toward hand-written notes taped on cabinets backstage.

“This is a huge show with lots of stage direction and lots of exciting stuff,” Sicoli said. “It is constantly moving. I love it. This is what I want to do in the future.”

The show marks the first at Mount Hebron that sisters Haley and Jenna Miller act together.

“It’s great to see her in roles and watch her grow,” Jenna, a freshman, said of her older sister. “It’s awesome to have her here, too. We support each other.”

The cast, she added, has become a family, too.

“At auditions, everyone is nervous,” Jenna said. “By the end of the show, you’re sad to end the community you built.”

Haley, 16, echoed her sister.

Mt. Hebron senior Kevin Watts gets helps from Trent Donaldson with the catcher's gear for Monday's dress rehearsal of "Damn Yankees."
Mt. Hebron senior Kevin Watts gets helps from Trent Donaldson with the catcher's gear for Monday's dress rehearsal of "Damn Yankees." (Nicole Munchel for the Baltimore/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

“It’s like a family,” Haley said. “We support each other and provide encouragement. We learn a lot from each other.”

As the cast, crew and pit orchestra entered their final rehearsals before opening night, Carlsen and Sankey went over notes, gave advice and appeared calm.

“I’m excited to be working with Tom Sankey and joining the legacy of Hebron theater,” Carlsen said. “It doesn’t feel like work. It’s fun.”

“We keep asking, ‘if we could get five more hours in a day,’ ” Sankey said. “Neither one of us can figure out how to do it.”

No matter, on Nov. 8, “play ball” will be called as the curtain rises on opening night.

“Damn Yankees” will be performed at 7 p.m. Nov. 8-9 and Nov. 14-16 at Mt. Hebron High School, 9440 Old Frederick Road, Ellicott City. Call 410-313-2880.

’Tis the season for high school productions

  • “These Shining Lives” will be presented by Hammond High School, 8800 Guilford Road, Columbia. 7 p.m. Nov. 7-9 and 2 p.m. Nov. 9. Tickets are $10.25 online and $12 at the door. 410-313-7615.
  • “The Laramie Project” will be presented by Long Reach High School, 6101 Old Dobbin Lane, Columbia. 7 p.m. Nov. 8 and 9. Tickets are $7.50 online and $9 at the door. 410-313-7117.
  • “Alice in Wonderland” will be presented by Oakland Mills High School, 9410 Kilimanjaro Road, Columbia. 7 p.m. Nov. 7-9. Tickets are $8. 410-313-6945.
  • “Sense and Sensibility” will be presented by Centennial High School, 4300 Centennial Lane, Ellicott City. 7 p.m. Nov. 14-16 and 2 p.m. Nov. 17. Tickets are $10 for students and $12 general admission. chstheatre.org.
  • “Peter and the Starcatcher” will be presented by Marriotts Ridge High School, 12100 Woodford Drive, Marriottsville. 7 p.m. Nov. 14-16 and 3 p.m. Nov. 17. Tickets are $10. 410-313-5568.
  • “She Kills Monsters” will be presented by Atholton High School, 6520 Freetown Road, Columbia. 7 p.m. Nov. 16, 22 and 23, and 3 p.m. Nov. 15. Tickets are $10 online and $12 at the door. 410-313-7065.
  • “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" will be presented by Glenelg High School, 14025 Burntwoods Road, Glenelg. 7 p.m. Nov. 21-23 and 2 p.m. Nov. 23 and 24. Tickets are $10. 410-313-5528.
  • A mystery play — go to the school’s website for information — will be presented by Reservoir High School, 11550 Scaggsville Road, Fulton. 7 p.m. Nov. 21-23 and 2 p.m. Nov. 23. Tickets are $12 online and $14 at the door. 410-888-8850.
  • “Matilda the Musical” will be presented by Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia. 7 p.m. Nov. 21-23. Tickets are $13 online and $14 at the door. 410-313-6965.
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