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Johnny Baseball - A Grand Slam of a Musical

My 14-year old daughter and I saw Johnny Baseball tonight at the ART.  The show is still in 'previews' and officially opens on June 2.  Until then, you can get some nice discounts on tickets.

Johnny Baseball is a new musical about the Boston Red Sox.  But, it's not all baseball.  It mixes a love story, humor, baseball, and the injustice of racism into a fantastic show.  And, wonderful original songs with stellar singing from a Broadway-caliber cast.

The show starts with the Red Sox on the verge of losing the 2004 American League Championship Series to the Yankees in Game 4.  The fans lament the Sox curse, and the show then reveals what could have been the true source of the Curse -- racism.  It's no secret that the Red Sox were the last team to integrate in 1959, 12 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier.  The show takes some literary license with a bit of the history, but that's all acknowledged in the program for purists.  You don't have to know a lot of Red Sox history to enjoy the show, but the key factors of Red Sox history are also listed in the program.

I won't give away the plot as there are some surprises.  But, the story moves quickly, with lots of humorous elements.  You'll laugh at the characters and their antics.  The acting is fantastic, particularly the lead characters of Johnny O'Brien, Daisy Wyatt, and Babe Ruth. And the singing is first rate.  All of the cast members have Broadway experience, and it shows.  You rarely have a chance to see this quality production in such a small theater.  Every seat is a good one.

My daughter isn't much of a sports fan, but does appreciate musicals.  She really enjoyed the show, too.  And, the ART brings the flavor of Fenway to Brattle Street in Cambridge -- a sausage vendor, beer in plastic cups, cotton candy (in a Red Sox cup!), ushers in Red Sox attire, and signs reminiscent of Fenway pointing you to the restroom!

I'd definitely recommend Johnny Baseball for anyone who enjoys baseball and/or musicals.  It's suitable for families, but some subject matter and language (Bucky "f-ing" Dent) won't be right for younger kids.  My daughter said she thought it was PG-13.  Absent the one f-bomb, I'd say it's closer to PG.

And, Bob Lobel likes it, too!

Disclaimer: I'm on the ART's Board of Trustees and have been a subscriber since 1982.


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