Lesli Margherita takes swing at dream role in ‘Damn Yankees’

LONG BEACH, Calif. — All you really need is heart, a couple of baseball bats and a really talented group of dancers and you’ve got yourself a production of “Damn Yankees.”

Olivier Award-winning actress Lesli Margherita returns to Musical Theatre West to play the temptress Lola. This is her first live performance on a SoCal stage in nine years. She describes Lola, originated by Gwen Verdon, as a bucket list role.

“Lola is one of those triple-threat roles that they really don’t write anymore,” she said. “You have to sing, dance and act. You have to be funny. It’s got everything.”

Including Fosse-inspired choreography by Alexis Carra Girbés, who previously toured with “Fosse,” the musical, and appeared in the TV show “Fosse/Verdon.” The dancer caught the Bob Fosse bug in her teens and studied his less-is-more style under some of his muses.

“I learned the original Who’s Got the Pain from Gwen Verdon,” she said, “which is bananas because she was, I think, in her 80s and was still dancing it.”

Musical Theatre West’s “Damn Yankees” is playing at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center through Oct. 30.