Blanchard family makes the team for Ascension production

He’s the devil, and she knows it.

But it’s OK, because Sonya Blanchard knows it’s all show. And she knows her husband Brad Blanchard wasn’t going to pass up a chance to play one of the starring roles in Ascension Community Theatre’s production of Damn Yankees.

Also taking lead roles in the production are Tyler Grezaffi, who plays Joe Hardy, the young baseball star version of the middle-age Joe Boyd, played by Kevin Harger.

And it’s Joe Boyd who makes a pact with Applegate, the devil, for youth and talent to help the Washington Senators baseball team defeat the New York Yankees.

But a problem arises when Haley Schroeck steps on stage. She’s Lola, the devil’s assistant. She usually gets whatever she wants.

And she wants Joe.

Joe longs for Meg, which leads us back to Sonya Blanchard. She stars as Meg in this show.

But it doesn’t stop there.

“Our son, Beau, plays the bat boy,” Sonya Blanchard said. “He’s 8, and this is his first time to be on stage. He’s really taken to it. And our daughter, Molly Beth, is in the show, too.”

So, this is Blanchard family affair. It’s also a reunion of sorts for Brad Blanchard, who was 19 years old when he played a baseball player in Baton Rouge Little Theater’s production of the Richard Adler-Jerry Ross musical almost 20 years ago.

“This is one of my favorite musicals,” Brad Blanchard said. “I knew I wanted to do it.”

Now he returns as the devil.

“It’s different this time around, because I’m almost always on stage,” Brad Blanchard said.

And this time around, he’s joined by his wife and children.

“Some people ask, ‘Isn’t that a lot of time?’” Sonya Blanchard said. “It is a lot of time, but it’s time we’re spending together. We’re rehearsing each night together, and it’s turned out to be great for us. And our children are learning about theater. When you’re involved in a production like this, the cast becomes a family, and you form lifelong relationships, and our children are learning about that.”

Grezaffi and Schroeck, meanwhile, are learning about a new stage. Literally.

They’re regulars on Theatre Baton Rouge’s stage, but Schroeck’s aspiration was to one day play the villain Lola.

“I know (director) Michael Mason, and he asked me to come audition,” Schroeck said. “Tyler (Grezaffi) and I are dating, and I asked him if he wanted to try out for Young Joe. This is our first time doing a play at Ascension Community Theatre.”

“And this is my first production in this theater,” said Harger, also a regular at Theatre Baton Rouge.

“And, you know, this is the second play where my character has made a deal with the devil,” he said, laughing.

The devil, in this case, being Brad Blanchard’s Applegate, who will forge the deal when Ascension opens Damn Yankees on Thursday, July 11.