September 23, 2022

Second Stage Broadway revival of ‘Take Me Out’ exposes homophobia and racism in baseball

When Métis center fielder Darren Lemming, a seemingly unassailable superstar for the MLB empires, nonchalantly reveals at a press conference that he is gay, the unexpected news sparks hilarious reactions, growing tension and serious conflict. in the locker room, in the media. , and on the playing field, exposing prejudice and hostility in the male world of the American pastime, and threatening friendships, team spirit and hopes for another championship season.

Jesse Williams (center) and the cast. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Now playing a limited Broadway engagement at the Helen Hayes Theater, the Second Stage Theater revival of Richard Greenberg’s 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning and Pulitzer Prize-nominated play take me outwhich was written at a time when no active MLB player had ever come out publicly, is told in the form of a throwback story, with plenty of funny and tense conversations, angry confrontations and consequences. empowering for all characters caught in the “total mess” of hate and responsibility in the context of the team sport they love.

Under the brilliant direction and compelling direction of Scott Ellis, the show, despite its highly meaningful message, focuses on the hard-hitting sardonic humor of distinctive personality types and their development, moving from direct accounts of what happened to engaging re-enactments that combine unflinching mimicry of in-game action, sharp reflections on baseball’s democratic ideals, and players’ metaphorical nudity, with the exposure of their raw emotions and beliefs.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Jesse Williams. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The outstanding cast is led by Jesse Williams as an aloof and superior Darren, devoted to gambling at the expense of a personal life, intelligent and biting in his banter, then deeply affected by awakening to the unforeseen repercussions of his spoken truth. Patrick J. Adams is extremely insightful, amusingly poetic, and naively empathetic in his observations as Kippy Sunderstrom, Darren’s teammate, friend, and narrator of his story, who warns him early on that his honest reveal might not be true. well received.

Michael Oberholtzer captures all the ignorance, bigotry and vitriol of his (unwitting?) antagonist Shane Mungitt, the southern-born new pitcher from a traumatic background, who escalates the drama with his shocking racial and sexual epithets and sparks sympathy with his hard-luck story-until he didn’t. Brandon L. Dirden also plays a pivotal role as devout Christian Davey Battle, an opposing player and Darren’s closest friend – until he wasn’t. And Jesse Tyler Ferguson is an earth-shattering delight as Mason “Mars” Marzac, an effusive gay underdog who had no interest in baseball until Darren’s exit, then becomes his enthusiastic fan, personal fund manager and a aficionado of the game, delivering tumultuous rhapsodies with its irrepressible effervescence that steals the stage.

Patrick J. Adams and Michael Oberholtzer. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Rounding out the all-male cast, Hiram Delgado, Ken Marks, Tyler Lansing Weaks, Julian Cihi, and Stephen Wattrus and Michael Castillejos (replacing, respectively, Carl Lundstedt and Eduardo Ramos during the performance I attended), all compelling in their roles as ballplayers, supporters and detractors, “cretins” and bibliophobes. Also contributing to the exceptional quality of the production, a top-notch realistic sound design by Bray Poor transports us to the ballpark with his opening national anthem, a cheering crowd and resounding cracks of the bat, perfectly timed. with the movements of the actors. David Rockwell provides effective set design with effective scene changes from locker rooms and showers to the stadium, enhanced by lighting by Kenneth Posner, and Linda Cho’s costumes define the characters’ disparate professions, personalities and social classes, to inside as well as outside. of uniform.

While the central issues of homophobia and racism are no joke, take me out knocks him out of the park with his wry wit and incisive discernment that will have you laughing and ruminating. It’s a big win for the team.

Duration: approximately 2h25, intermission included.

take me out plays through Saturday, June 11, 2022, at the Second Stage Theater, performing at the Helen Hayes Theater, 240 West 44and Street, New York. For tickets (priced at $79-199), call (212) 541-4516 or drop by in line. Everyone must present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter the building and must wear a mask at all times inside.

Please note: take me out includes adult situations and full male nudity. Out of respect and support for the cast and to create a phone-free space, upon arrival at The Hayes, all phones will be placed in Yondr cases by staff, returned to their owners (who retain possession of their devices at all times), and will be unlocked upon exiting the theater at the end of the show.