Mill Race troupe to present ‘Damn Yankees’

Director Nick Hogan is taking a big swing to connect with what he sees as a big, fat, hanging curveball in society: Men who struggle to healthily express emotion.

That explains why the huge Major League Baseball and Cincinnati Reds fan has chosen the classic musical “Damn Yankees” as the nonprofit Mill Race Theatre Company’s next production July 19-21 at Judson Erne Auditorium.

In lieu of an intermission, the show will feature a seventh-inning stretch and a rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

David Maurey will be music director and Kaylin Hogan is choreographer.

Hogan seems the perfect person, besides his fandom, to direct such an endeavor. He has spoken publicly about a range of mental health matters, including depression and his own mental health struggles.

“I’m really very connected to this story,” he said.

Consider his Facebook post from two weeks ago: “There is a lot to be said in this story about workaholism, priorities in life, and it explores in-depth the way that men express their emotions through sports. This strikes me as an underserved but important story — plus musical theater is a fun way to tell it!”

The production revolves around the character of Joe Boyd. The online synopsis is simple: A middle-aged baseball fanatic, Joe would do anything to help his beloved Washington Senators take the pennant, including selling his soul. In fact, he does strike a deal with the devil, who transforms him into a young slugger who saves the season for the Senators. However, the deal also requires Joe to give up his life, including his beloved wife, Meg.

Hogan connects to the production on another level. His beloved Reds frequently have been strugglers in recent years.

“I can personally relate,” he said with a laugh.

Mill Race gets support from the Columbus Area Arts Council, the Indiana Arts Commission, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

The local organization, formerly Mill Race Players, is the oldest community theatre troupe in Columbus, which once featured half a dozen different such groups in the late 1980s. Performances in Mill Race Park began with “Bye Bye Birdie” in the summer of 1969. Through the years, the company has produced more than 100 shows.

Information and tickets: