Gays find love in the military.
Mon Mar 1 2010
BROTHERS IN ARMS Steggert, left, and Hernandez share a forbidden tryst.
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Yank! is defiantly conventional. Subtitled A WWII Love Story, Joseph and David Zellnik’s gay-themed musical is a 1940s tuner in sound and in spirit. There is a squad of soldiers, graced with one characteristic apiece (the Southern hick is nicknamed “Tennessee,” the one with glasses is “Professor”). There are two exuberant tap numbers, and even a dream ballet. The score is clever, melodic period pastiche; the sensitive hero, Stu (the excellent Steggert), is serenaded by his hunky fellow soldier and secret paramour, Mitch (Hernandez), with a tender ballad that recalls the Kern-Hammerstein classic “The Folks That Live on the Hill.” Stylistically, this tender tale of gays in the military may be the most conservative musical in town.
It’s almost as though Igor Goldin’s stark production for the York were daring the audience to laugh at the application of time-tested conventions to a gay romance, and it is a tribute to the skill involved that the audience, for the most part, falls right in line. (Only in the ill-advised dream ballet—a faux pas de deux—was there a hint of nervous titter.) If Yank! sometimes pulls too hard when making points about gay liberation, its heart never gets too purple, and its sincerity is a part of its power. Hernandez is believable as the sinking dreamboat; Jeffry Denman contributes flair and fancy footwork as a military reporter adept at camouflaging his dalliances, and Nancy Anderson is sharp and well-styled in a sequence of cameos. But it is Steggert’s limpid vulnerability that best captures the essence of the show, whose subversion of the closet consists of playing it straight.—Adam Feldman
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