The dish on the ‘devil’: Carson Kressley talks about ‘Damn Yankees,’ summer in Ogunquit and ‘Dancing with the Stars’
Carson Kressley is back in Ogunquit and is currently delivering a devilishly entertaining performance in the home-run hit “Damn Yankees (The Boston Red Sox Version!)”
Kressley, who last appeared on the Ogunquit stage in the 2010 production of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” plays Mr. Applegate in the baseball musical — but the character is more widely known under another alias.
“If there has ever been a villain, I guess it would be the Devil,” Kressley said.
As Satan himself, Applegate uses his powers to transform Red Sox fanatic Joe Boyd into a young, strong and handsome long ball hitter with supernatural athletic abilities, then pulls out all the stops to make sure Boyd is unable to return to his previous life.
Although he said he’s had a great experience working on the show, portraying a character the audience loves to hate was something new for Kressley.
“It’s a little strange because I’ve never played a villain before,” Kressley said in a phone interview.
In one moment in the second act, a Red Sox fan punches Applegate, and Kressley said hearing the audience’s reaction came as a surprise.
“There were actually cheers and applause that I get punched in the face,” Kressley said. “I thought, ‘Oh I must be doing a good job if they are relishing that I was clobbered.'”
Walking the line between a truly despicable character and one enjoyable for the audience to watch, Kressley said he made sure Applegate was “devilishly charming.”
“He has to be endearing. It might sound weird, but he has to be so he can convince and cajole people to sell their souls to him,” Kressley said.
Admittedly not a baseball fan, Kressley said he took a cue from the show’s crew to learn the lingo that included “hot grounder,” which Kressley said sounded more like a sandwich than a term for a low-flying baseball.
Similar to the thunder and lightning effect his character commands at the snap of his fingers, Kressley said it was a “perfect storm” situation that led him back to the Ogunquit Playhouse.
“First and foremost, it was in Ogunquit. I had worked here before and I think it’s a fantastic organization. All of us in the cast and all of us who work on the show are so lucky to be doing what we love and working on a great Americana musical,” Kressley said. “It’s a great show and a beautiful location.”
Kressley said performing on the Ogunquit Playhouse’s stage, which has held performances from some of Hollywood’s legends, including Bette Davis and Claudette Colbert, is a grand experience, but summering in Ogunquit is a breath of fresh air from his busy life in New York.
“The thing that stands out is how nice everyone is. Someone gives their parking spot away or people say hello when you get your morning coffee. That small-town friendliness is really refreshing,” Kressley said.
Describing the experience as a summer vacation, Kressley said his perfect day off in Ogunquit would start with breakfast from The Egg and I or Amore Breakfast before heading to the beach and late-afternoon shopping, including a trip to antique hunt in Wells, before ending with a great dinner.
On one sunny afternoon recently, Kressley took to Main Street for a “Dancing with the Stars” promotional video as he was campaigning for one of the last remaining spots on the All-Star edition of the popular reality show.
Kressley said the producers for “Dancing With the Stars” said they wanted to run a faux-election campaign video, but with “Damn Yankees” rehearsals in full-swing, Kressley was unable to get away from Ogunquit. So the film crew came to visit.
“I wanted to do a very Americana theme. Ogunquit was the perfect backdrop. Everyone was so great about participating and all my castmates showed up. It was a really fun project, it turned out so great,” Kressley said.
To watch the video, which features shots taken outside 16 Beach St. and various downtown locations, and to help Kressley secure a spot back on “Dancing with the Stars,” visit www.abc.com.
Voting closes Aug.24.
“Doing the show the first time was so great, but I was so nervous and freaked out by it that you don’t enjoy it as much as you could. Having a second chance at something, maybe you can take a deep breath and enjoy it a little bit more,” Kressley said.
After “Damn Yankees,” Kressley will head to the World Horse Show in Kentucky where he will compete with three horses with hopes of reclaiming the championship title he won in 2009.
Future projects will include introducing new items to his clothing line, “Love, Carson,” which will appear on Shop NBC in October, and a special holiday edition will be held on Cyber Monday. Kressley is also filming a pilot for an ABC show he’s remaining quiet about.
But with plenty on the horizon, and hopes of making it back onto the “Dancing with the Stars” dance floor, Kressley said he would still love to come back to Ogunquit.
“It depends on the role,” Kressley said. “But I would totally come back.”
For now, Kressley is happy to bewitch “Damn Yankees” audiences and admits he prescribes to a certain superstition before every show.
“I try to do everything exactly as I did before the last show. I think that if I have a good performance, I should do the exact same thing. I have the same ritual of when I do my makeup, when I put my clothes on, how I organize my four pairs of shoes,” Kressley said. “I touch something red before I go on stage, take a deep breath, and go do it.”