Wednesday, May 25, 2022

NYC Theater Trip 2022: "Take Me Out" at Second Stage at the Hayes Theater

Show*: 3

Title: Take Me Out

Location: Second Stage at the Hayes Theater

Written By: Richard Greenberg

Summary: In this very funny and loving tribute to the best sport in the world - baseball - a superstar player comes out as gay in the middle of the season, leading to all sorts of drama, and even tragedy.

Highlights: I loved this play so much I just bought the script. As a lifelong Twins fan, I am familiar with the joy and the heartbreak that is baseball. And this play, while covering lots of relevant social issues, is at its heart an ode to baseball. Will people who don't like baseball like this play? I couldn't say, because I could never understand a person who doesn't love a game that's so perfect, so symmetric, so democratic. Jesse Tyler Ferguson (who was on Broadway long before he became known as Mitchell Pritchett) plays a business manager who starts watching baseball when he takes on said superstar, Darren, as a client (played by Grey's Anatomy's Jesse Williams in his Broadway debut), and over the course of half a season, he falls in love with the game. He has a couple of fantastic soliloquys (the play is framed by narration directly to the audience, mostly by Darren's best friend, played by Suits' Patrick J. Adams) about the beautiful oddities of baseball, and the many reasons we love it so much (I need a t-shirt with the quote "baseball is better than democracy" but sadly there was no merch table). But back to the drama. After the superstar comes out publicly as gay (which, BTW, no active MLB player has ever done, although a couple of minor leagers and retired players have, including Billy Bean, current MLB VP and special assistant to the commissioner), a recent call-up from double-A (Michael Oberholtzer) makes a racist and homophobic statement to the press (think John Rocker, or rather don't think about him). He's suspended and suddenly Darren finds himself at the center of a movement, something he never wanted; he just wants to play ball as usual. More drama unfolds over the course of the season, some of it shocking. The season ends and so does the play, after exploring baseball as a microcosm of America, the good, the bad, and the ugly. The fantastic cast (Jesse Tyler Ferguson in particular is such a gem, so funny and natural on stage, and deserves to win his first Tony for this) on the simple but cool set comprised of a set of clubhouse lockers that turn around to form a backdrop for projections, and showers with actual running water (which yes, means they're naked, as people usually are in the shower), makes it feel like you're really in the clubhouse with these guys as they journey through this unexpectedly eventful season. 

On that eventual day, and it will come, when the MLB accepts openly gay players and allows them to be themselves without threat of ridicule, retaliation, or damage to their career, I will only love baseball more than I do now. I'll leave you with the closing lines of the play, the lament of every Twins fan at the end of every season throughout history except for two ('87 and '91!):
This season was tragic.
What will we do until spring?!

*Once again, I'm using an abbreviated Fringe-style summary for my NYC 2022 trip, since I am in the greatest city in the world with much more exciting things to do than write! Click here to see all of my Broadway-related blog posts.