Regional Reviews: San Francisco
A Raunchy Production of
Warning! Don't take you maiden aunt to see Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical now playing at the Eureka Theatre. She just might faint from the "vapors" looking at all of the wild sexual antics going on on the small stage. The Stroke of Genius company is presenting the Off-Broadway farce based on the 1978 porn flick of the same name. This is really an "in your face" musical that tries to use every X-rated scene (of course the production is "R" rated) in the movie plus songs with lyrics like "stroke it/ poke it/ careful not to choke it" that probably never will be heard on religious radio stations.
I saw a truncated, sixty-minute version of this show last month at the showroom in the Harvey Hotel on Lake Tahoe. That production featured topless cheerleaders with very little raunchiness. The current production makes the Tahoe version look like Sound of Music.
The basic story line of this naughty travesty centers around all-American sweetheart Debbie Benton (Christy Mcintosh) who is captain of her high school cheerleading team. She is on a quest to make it big as a Texas Cowboy Cheerleader. She enlists the help of teammates and friends Lisa (Bailee Desrocher), Roberta (Leslie Waggoner), Donna (Stephanie Saunders) and Tammy (Shaye Troha) to find a way to fund her trip to Dallas.
Meanwhile, Debbie's boyfriend Rick (Brett Milan Gajda), the high school football hero, suffers untold agony trying to get her to give in to his clumsy entreaties for a more physical relationship.
How the girls get the money, don't ask. The musical goes way past double entendres, and the girls and guys come up with creative and playful ways to get Debbie to Dallas. This is certainly an "R" rated musical with a lot of juvenile sex gags and over the top general ridicule of energetic teen spirit.
Director Eli Newsom has set the piece in 1978 rather than the 2002 setting of the Off-Broadway production. Also, this is the first production to use live music as opposed to a canned track, which is how it was originally presented at the Jane Street Theater in New York during the fall of 2002. The combo plays the melodies of funky '70s porn pop. The story is true to the original film version. You will hear some of the worst (or best, depending on your sensibilities) dialogue ever written for the theater. This is a Saturday night stag party at its best.
Christy Mcintosh is very good as the naïve and somewhat air-headed Debbie. She is pert and petite with a voice that is reminiscent of Kristin Chenoweth. Bailee Desrocher is very funny as Lisa who has the "hots" for Dirk. She has the looks of a young Eydie Gorme and the walk and talk of Nancy Walker. She is new in town and should go places as a stand up comic.
Stephanie Saunders, Shaye Troha and Leslie Waggoner as the other cheerleaders are very good in both the vocal and dance department. The "boys," played by Andy Miramontes, Lance Fuller and Brett Milan Gajda, seem a little too old for high school. They also take various roles in what can only be described as old shtick burlesque comic scenes. Even the wigs they wear are strictly from the golden era of naughty theatre. Brett Milan Gajda gets a chance to show off his strong vocal cords in "I Wanna Do Debbie." I won't even try to describe the "The Banana Ballet" or "The Dildo Rag." You will just have to go to see for yourself.
The choreography by Ellyn March is lively and youthful, and she even puts in a little tribute to the dancing in the film Show Girls and the Broadway musical A Chorus Line at the end.
Debbie runs out of steam and the jokes becomes repetitious about two thirds of the way into the ninety-minute no intermission farce. The sixty-minute production at Lake Tahoe seemed to be the exact length to keep the audience entertained. The company is also presenting a more adult version on Saturday nights at 10:30. Just how far they can go in that late night version can be left to the imagination.
The combo of Ben Prince at the piano, James Deprato playing guitar, Michael Shiono on the bass and Luke Williams on drums is good back up for the singers. Eli Newsom has wisely put them at the back of the stage so they will not drown out the singers.