Yank! – Theater Review
Set during World War II, Yank! chronicles the relationship between two servicemen long before “Don’t-ask-don’t-tell” was part of the national discussion. With a lively score inspired by the pop sounds of the 1940’s, Yank! captures the spirit and exuberance of the era as it explores questions of prejudice, courage and survival.
Yank! is an off-Broadway musical that’s at the York Theater Company on 54th and Lexington. This one is about World War II, and even though it’s set in World War II, literally, it’s today’s headlines, it’s talking about the military overturning the prohibition about gays in the military. Set in 1942 with a squad of men, in which one is obviously gay. Stu is played by Bobby Steggert, who was in Ragtime, Master Harold and the Boys, the Slugbearers of Kyrol Island, so he’s seasoned. He’s a terrific actor and is wonderful in this particular play of dealing with a young man who is coming to grips with his own sexuality. And Mitch, who’s a hunk, but still closeted, trying to decide if he’s straight or gay, and the ramifications on the squad and everyone else around them. Mitch is played by Ivan Hernandez, who was in The Fantastics, and is completely adorable. It’s a wonderful story, it’s very timely, but for a musical, it goes on a bit long, to be quite honest. And I think the real problem is they have a large cast who have various skills, and there are three tap dancing numbers and a ballet, which slows everything down; there should either be more dancing or less, and I think in this particular case, even though it was fun to watch the incredibly talented cast dance, I think it really doesn’t add much and it doesn’t move the story line along quick enough or well enough to justify the time. I think that dealing with a musical about homosexuality in World War II is difficult enough, although I have no problem with serious issues like Kiss of the Spiderwoman or Tommy and the Who, which dealt with autism, or any of the other musicals that have dealt with difficult subjects, but I think that the dancing doesn’t really add much and does slow things down. Having said that, it’s a terrific cast, uniformly talented, with the outstanding Bobby Steggert being terrific. Nancy Anderson, who plays all of the women in the play, is also wonderful. The whole cast is very very good. It’s worth seeing and it will bring a tear to your eye. It just may also bring a bit of an ache to your butt because you’ve been sitting so long. But I think with a little bit of editing and probably getting rid of the dancing that it could someday move to Broadway. Three stars!