Loeb Drama Center
Robert Reale and Richard Dresser’s musical about the 86-year “curse” that kept the Boston Red Sox from winning a World Series Championship is a work that “even a Yankee could love,” said Frank Rizzo in Variety. The show posits that the Sox’s decades-long vexation was not the “curse of the Bambino”—said to have kicked in when the Sox traded star pitcher Babe Ruth to the Yankees—but instead a sort of cosmic punishment for racism on the part of the team’s owners. In this telling, the curse begins when the team steps in to nix a burgeoning love affair between the show’s fictional protagonist, a pitcher for the Sox named Johnny O’Brien, and a beautiful black nightclub singer named Daisy Wyatt.
“Johnny Baseball is clearly out to be the next Great American Musical,” said Jenna Scherer in the Boston Herald. It’s “old-fashioned and earnest, almost to a fault,” combining the worlds of sport and song-and-dance in a way that recalls Richard Adler and Jerry Ross’ 1955 classic Damn Yankees. Reale’s songs summon the heyday of American musical theater, from “One More Run”—sung by a chorus of bleacher bums—to the Babe Ruth–led bar ditty “Brotherhood of Bastards.” As Johnny, Colin Donnell “is a natural leading man,” while Burke Moses oozes rakish charm as Ruth. Johnny Baseball may be a bit “too derivative to be a masterwork, but as a piece of Americana, it’s pretty great.”