PROVO — Casey at the Bat was introduced in 2007 at the NAMT (National Alliance for Music Theatre) Festival for New Works; so as far as musicals go, this one is still a baby.  And like an infant, Casey is full of energy and potential for growth.  The musical starts and ends with the words of the infamous poem, but it turns out there is much more story to be told.  BYU has done a great job in this “workshop” production, giving Casey some positive momentum, I hope.

The musical tells the story of a down-and-out town called Mudville and their hometown baseball team.  When newcomer Timothy Casey joins the practically bankrupt team, he changes more than just their morale; Casey brings new life to all who live in Mudville.

Dix Colby Densley was a star in his portrayal of Casey.  During the poetic intro, I was admittedly disappointed at his size (I had the Disney cartoon in my head), but his large personality and enormous talent quickly filled the stage.  He was the dictionary definition of a hero and a great leading man.  I was less pleased with the casting of Densley’s romantic counterpart, who acted more motherly than anything else.  Annalece Boothe is a talented singer, for sure, but her acting left me feeling uninterested.  The writing, sadly, did not help Boothe with her character development.

Timothy Casey and Katherine Weatherly fall in love at some point during this show.  I say “at some point” because this relationship comes out of nowhere.  Each character’s back-story is poorly defined by the script, so it is never established why these two characters need each other.  As an audience member, I didn’t rejoice when they fell in love, despair when they were apart, or (pretty much) care at all.  If a play in its infancy can change, I would suggest the creators of this musical improve the character development for these two lovers.  It would make a huge difference.  And while we’re on the subject of change, why does a man who goes by Timothy think the name Katherine is too formal?  It bothered me.  But back to BYU’s production…

What an enthusiastic and fun ensemble!  Each of these characters was defined, committed, and practically bubbling over with energy.  I loved hearing the cast sing together; even “Take me out to the Ballgame” became a beautiful melody with those strong, clean voices behind it.  The baseball team came across as just a bunch of nice fun guys, which I loved.  I feel sad that I missed some of the plot and witty writing due to poor enunciation at times; but in general, the cast did well getting out the message in this word-packed show.

A few characters deserve acknowledgement: the villainous Drinkwater (Brannon Killgo) for incessantly sucking on a lollipop; hilarious Bickley’s (Tanner Garrett) weaseling antics around the stage; and good-guy Cyrus Weatherby (George D. Nelson) for simply epitomizing the American ideal.  There was a joyous energy in each of these fellas.  I was so excited that the director took advantage of the tango aspect in “We need a Plan,” further enhancing the comedy of the villains.  The character of Bridget, played by Bailee Brinkerhoff, was a great addition to the show; she was witty and strong.  I was distracted by the accent, however, and wish I could have seen her without it.  A great new song from this show, “Man in a Uniform,” was performed by Brinkerhoff, and I think she did an amazing job; that girl’s got guts.

The musical is corny—not necessary a bad thing—and entertaining; It could be just my imagination, but some moments in “Casey” were eerily similar to two other popular productions.  Tell me what you think.  In one scene, three coquettish maids dance around in unison, cutely singing about the handsome Casey.  Another time, an Irish woman and a young boy act as a conscience, trying to get the hero to stay in town.  Hmmm.  Name – those – musicals!

The show sold out and deservedly so; “Casey at the Bat” is a delight to experience—this newcomer has a lot of potential.  Add a little character development, shorten a few songs, and find another cast as talented as this one; “Casey” can become a real winner in the world of musical theatre.

Casey at the Bat: A New Musical ran nightly (7:30 PM) through April 2 at BYU‘s Margetts Arena Theatre in the Harris Fine Arts Center to sold out audiences.

Questions to Our Readers

  • If you saw Casey at the Bat, do you think it can make it to Broadway?  What would it need to improve for this show to survive in New York?
  • A musical is like a complex machine with many different parts: script, score, orchestrations, choreography, etc.  Which aspects of a musical are most important in your opinion?