|Yank! A WWII Love Story|
Poster for the 2010 York Theater Company production
2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival
Yank! A WWII Love Story is a 2005 musical with book and lyrics by David Zellnik and music by his brother Joseph. Yank! "tells the story of Stu, a scared Midwestern kid who gets drafted for World War II in 1943, and becomes a photographer for Yank Magazine, the journal 'for and by the servicemen.' Yank! has a score that pays homage to the 1940s and explores what it means to be a man, and what it is to fall in love and struggle." Yank! takes its title from the World War II publication Yank, the Army Weekly.
The show received a workshop production as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival in 2005. The workshop featured Doug Kreeger, Jeffry Denman, Julie Foldesi, Tally Sessions and Ivan Hernandez. It was directed by Igor Goldin and choreographed by Chase Brock.
A full production of Yank! was mounted at Brooklyn's Gallery Players in the fall of 2007. The production starred Bobby Steggert, Nancy Anderson, Tyson Kaup, James Stover, Daniel Shevlin, Chris Carfizzi, and Maxime de Toledo. Jeffry Denman appeared again and also choreographed. Igor Goldin again directed. This production received the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Best Musical.
In 2008, the first regional production of Yank! was produced by the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego. The cast consisted of Amy Biedel, Zachary Bryant, Jacob Caltrider, Rocky DeHaro, Eric Dowdy, Tom Doyle, Juston Harlin, Tony Houck, Trevor Peringer, Sven Salumaa, John Whitley and Tom Zohar. That production won L.A. Stage Scene Awards for Best Musical (intimate theatre) and Outstanding Direction of a Musical (Igor Goldin).
2010 York Theatre Production
Yank! began preview performances at the York Theatre on February 16, 2010 and opened on February 24. Originally slated to run through March 21, strong tickets sales led producers to extend the show through April 4. Steggert, Hernandez, Denman and Anderson all returned for this production and were joined in the cast by Andrew Durand, Zak Edwards, Todd Faulkner, Denis Lambert, Joseph Medeiros, David Perlman, Christopher Ruth and Tally Sessions. It was directed by Igor Goldin and choreographed by Jeffry Denman.
The York Theatre production attracted attention for its relevance during a time of national debate over the repeal effort aimed at the United States military's gay-exclusionary don't ask, don't tell (DADT) policy. The company created partnerships with LGBT equal rights groups including The White Knot, Broadway Impact and American Veterans for Equal Rights.
The producers—Maren Berthelsen, Pamela Koslow, and Stuart Wilk, with Keith Degi, Matt Schicker, Hugh Hayes, Jim Kierstead, Joe Black, Sondra Healy and Shidan Majidi —announced plans to move Yank! to Broadway under the direction of David Cromer. Cromer would replace Igor Goldin, who had been with the production since the beginning.
The production was originally scheduled for Fall 2010 but changed to Fall 2011 or Spring 2012 to allow more time for further development of the script and score. In winter 2011, the Roundabout Theatre Company produced a workshop of a revised "Yank!"
The New York Times gave an overall favorable review of Yank!, citing its blend of humor with drama and the quality of the songwriting. The Times noted the "accidental topicality" of the musical as it related to the DADT repeal effort. However, the paper found weaknesses in the production, notably the failure to explore some themes, specifically fidelity between gay couples and personal loyalty versus military honor. While labeling the first act "delightful", the Times found the second act to be "muddled". The creators, it says, adhere too closely to the formulas of heterosexual romantic musicals of the war era, saying that it "derails a show that had been moving along nicely". Overall, says the Times, the show suffers from being too ambitious.
The York Theatre production garnered nominations for several awards for the 2009-2010 season. These included nominations for two Lucille Lortel Awards, for Outstanding Musical and Jeffry Denman for Outstanding Choreographer; two Outer Critics Circle Awards, for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical and Outstanding New Score (Broadway or Off-Broadway); and seven Drama Desk Awards nominations, for Outstanding Musical, Bobby Steggert for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Jeffry Denman for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical, Igor Goldin for Outstanding Director of a Musical, Joseph Zellnik for Outstanding Music, David Zellnik for Outstanding Lyrics, and David Zellnik for Outstanding Book of a Musical.
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- "Yank!". The New York Musical Theatre Festival. Retrieved May 15, 2010.
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- "Home - Diversionary Theatre". Diversionary Theatre.
- "Yank! A New Musical". Diversionary Theatre. Retrieved May 15, 2010.
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- Healy, Patrick (May 10, 2010). "David Cromer to Direct Broadway Production of ‘Yank!’". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- Healy, Patrick (September 4, 2010). ""Yank!" Won't Reach Broadway This Season". The New York Times. p. C2. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
- Genzlinger, Neil (February 25, 2010). "Stealing Kisses Before ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2010.
- Jones, Kenneth (April 1, 2010). "Everyday Rapture, Glass Menagerie, The Pride Are Among Lortel Award Nominees". Playbill.com. Retrieved May 15, 2010.
- Itzkoff, Dave (April 26, 2010). "'Memphis' and 'The Royal Family' Lead Outer Critics Circle Awards Nominations". The New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2010.
- "55th Annual Drama Desk Awards Nominations Announced at NY Friars Club by Brian Stokes Mitchell and Cady Huffman" (Press release). Drama Desk. May 3, 2010. Retrieved May 15, 2010.