San Marcos High’s spring musical, Damn Yankees, opened Thursday and will have five more performances of the popular comedy based on a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop and with music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross.

With hit songs like “Heart,” “Whatever Lola Wants” and “Shoeless Joe From Hannibal MO,” this delightful musical is a retelling of the ancient Faust legend in which our hero trades his soul to the devil for a chance to have his favorite baseball team, the Washington Senators, win the National League pennant and beat “those damn Yankees!”

The San Marcos production is directed by David Holmes, Carolyn Teraoka-Brady is the vocal director, Dan Garske is musical director, set and light designs are by Theodore Michael Dolas, costume design is by Marian Azdril, and Zia Morter is the choreographer.

Dancing has made up Morter’s life since she was 5 years old, and she loves it. She studies with Steven Lovelace in jazz and says jazz is her favorite dance, although she also enjoys salsa. Currently a San Marcos senior, she takes several Advanced Placement classes and participates in Mock Trial.  She will continue to study dance at Bard College in upstate New York this fall. While she has been in many dance performances, she said she has enjoyed her musical theater dances the most.

Morter became the play’s choreographer because she had been the dance captain since her freshman year and led the warm-ups for the cast of the play.

“One of the most rewarding parts our jobs as teachers is challenging our students to be the best that they can be,” Holmes said. “With Zia the logical next step for her as an artist is to choreograph. We are very proud of her work, I know you will be impressed.”

Morter has taken on a large number of responsibilities by assuming the choreographer’s role with Damn Yankees. She has diligently attended every rehearsal and made sure that each of the actors knows all of his or her dance steps.  Often this entails taking actors aside and teaching them, step-by-step. Although it may be difficult for her to keep her friendship with the actors and her teacher role as choreographer in balance, she manages to do so.

Morter has had immense fun working on Damn Yankees. She likes choreographing musical theater because it brings in whole new aspects to the show.  She also enjoys incorporating different styles of dance.

“The dances for ‘Lola’ have a more seductive style of dancing, but the dance for ‘Shoeless Joe’ is more jazzy,” she said when asked for an example.

Damn Yankees is a play about an intense middle-aged baseball fan, Joe Boyd (Angky Budiardjono), whose dream is to help take the Washington Senators all the way to the pennant, in spite of how dreadfully the team plays.  He meets the Devil (Gary Fields), who promises to turn him into a skilled, young baseball player and help him lead the Senators to victory.  The Devil thinks he has Boyd in his clutches as he turns him into a much younger Joe Hardy (Landon Ranck), but Boyd calls for an escape clause.  When the club begins to succeed, he is pursued by a relentless reporter (Chelsea Chaves) wanting to dig up dirt about the unknown player. When Boyd wants to go home, the Devil uses the seductress, Lola (Alice Zajic), to hold on to him.  Much to the Devil’s dismay, Boyd is still in love with his wife (Tara Logan).

Damn Yankees will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and again at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 and May 10. Tickets are $10 general admission, and $8 for seniors and students.

Angie Ward is a sophomore at San Marcos High.