Irvington High School’s version of the Washington Senators, with Johan Buchen, as Joe Hardy, in the foreground. Photo by Peter D. Kramer/The Journal News.
In “Damn Yankees,” the musical about the hapless Washington Senators and their battles with that team from the Bronx, manager Benny Van Buren famously declares “You gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles and miles of heart.”
Director Diana Selenow lucked out this year, with the equivalent of miles and miles and miles and miles of boys showing up at auditions: 16 freshmen boys joined the musical’s ranks.
And Johan Buchen, who plays Joe Hardy — the Senators’ savior — has acting in his blood: His father is Broadway veteran Rob Evan (“Tarzan”).
“Damn Yankees” also requires a triple-threat girl to play Lola, the devil’s assistant sent to seduce baseball Joe Hardy and distract him from winning that all-important pennant.
For that task, Selenow chose Irvington senior Jane Abbott, right, a tiny powerhouse who has spent this school year dividing her time between Irvington and the Ailey School of dance.
“I work at school through lunch and then head to Ailey for 3 to 5 hours,” the diminutive Abbott says before a recent rehearsal. “I’m there six days a week. Saturdays are long.”
Most of her work at Ailey has been in ballet, but “Damn Yankees” puts a premium on jazz dance, created by Bob Fosse for the incomparable Gwen Verdon, one of Abbott’s idols, the original Lola.
“Damn Yankees,” 7:30 p.m., March 8, 9, 15, 16; 2 p.m., March 10. $15; $8 students and seniors. 914-591-6645.