Chestnuts Roasting

A ribald antidote to Christmas sentimentality

Debbie Does Dallas, the Musical

Through December 22 at the Blank Canvas Theatre, 1305 W. 78 Street, Suite 211, 440-941-0458

Have you ever suspected that the one thing the holiday season is lacking is a good, juicy dose of soft-core porn?

Well, this year a salacious Santa has heard your wish, and Debbie Does Dallas, the Musical is merrily ringing its jingle balls under your tree at the Blank Canvas Theatre.

Based on the iconic 1978 porno flick of the same name, D3 follows the activities of five nubile high school cheerleaders in Oklahoma who have pneumatic sexual desires and pompoms for brains.

The show and the production have enough glitches to make any Grinch drool with delight, but there are substantial carnal and theatrical pleasures to be had. Even with little actual nudity, the performers dive into the lubricious lewdness like kids tearing the wrapping off a mountain of gaily wrapped packages.

And that makes for an entertaining diversion if you don't mind candles used as dildos, a gal going down on a banana with deep-throat abandon, and a girl-on-girl orgy ending in the big O.

Debbie, the head cheerleader at Beaverton Jesuit High School, is focused on becoming one of the dancing sideline girls for the Dallas Cowboys. To that end, she and her short-skirted pals try to drum up money for the trip to Texas.

Hampered by their lack of negotiable workplace skills, the girls soon find that older men will offer cash for the opportunity to ogle, grope, and otherwise manhandle the teens' post-pubescent goodies. Meanwhile, Debbie's best guy, quarterback Rick, is always on the hunt for sex, as are his two jock buddies, Kevin and Johnny.

This sweaty piece was conceived by Susan L. Schwartz and adapted by Erica Schmidt, with music by Andrew Sherman. Most of the dialogue has the hollow thunk of porn movies, which is appropriate, and the songs are either forgettable or weirdly sentimental.

But the cast, under the direction of Patrick Ciamacco, manages to infuse this bawdy juvenilia with enough wit to keep the show on the rise. Leading the way is Leslie Andrews as Debbie, a small blond dynamo who swings from ecstasy to depression as her rocky road to "Dallas Cowgirl" stardom plays out.

Playing Lisa, Debbie's "frenemy" and full-time slut who steals Rick's heart, Tasha Brandt has the adolescent dead-eye gaze and sneer down to perfection. And Bill Reichert's Rick is, appropriately, a walking hard-on (even literally, at one towel-draped point).

The other three girls, rendered by Ashley Conlon, Becca Frick and Jordan Renee Malin, each craft distinct characters—with Frick garnering the most laughs as clueless but game-for-anything Roberta.

Also turning in crisp turns in multiple roles are Doug Bailey and Pat Miller. Bailey's Kevin is a dense hunk of teenage macho, while his middle-aged, horny-but-repressed librarian is just the opposite. Miller sparks laughs in his many roles, with the best moment being his romp with Roberta and his store full of candles in "The Dildo Rag." At times, he looks like a young Steve Martin in full manic mode.

All that promising character work is somewhat diminished by a slow pace. There are dialogue scenes bloated with meandering line readings and too much space between the lines. But most egregiously, the countless set changes last too long and result in paltry set revisions (a table pulled on, a bench shoved off).

Warts and all, Debbie Does Dallas, the Musical is a libidinous and raunchy holiday treat. And those are the best kind.

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About The Author

Christine Howey

Christine Howey has been reviewing theater since 1997, first at Cleveland Free Times and then for other publications including City Pages in Minneapolis, MN and The Plain Dealer. Her blog, Rave and Pan, also features her play reviews. Christine is a former stage actor and director, primarily at Dobama Theatre...
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