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Theater Review: “Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical”

Dare to be different, I always say.

I love to actively seek out and experience the unique, the quirky, the off-the-beaten-path type of stuff, especially in the world of fine arts and entertainment.  While radio is attempting to shove what they want to be the “next big thing” down the public’s throat, I scour music sites like eMusic, CDBaby, and (to a lesser extent) iTunes, trying to find artists and bands that I actually want to listen to based on my own personal preferences, not what someone else is telling me to do.  I can use wonderful independent or wider-ranging film services like Vimeo or Netflix Instant to find lesser-known movies and hidden gems that aren’t afforded the luxury of national marketing campaigns.  Amazing authors working with a smaller press or self-publishing their work are just a few clicks away from discovery on sites like Smashwords, Goodreads, and of course Amazon.  Finding that singular, largely-unknown and under-rated slice of goodness really makes me feel like I’m privy to something special, something that I can confidently tell others about and proudly say “’I found this first…I found this on my own.”

That’s my feeling in a nutshell about “Debbie Does Dallas,” the stage-musical version of the kitsch-tastic 1970s pseudo-porn movie of the same name.  The iteration I had the pleasure to witness is currently running on stage here in Indianapolis, at Theater on the Square on Mass Ave.  The fine folks at TOTS are no strangers to pushing the envelopes with their shows, as I having at one time performed in a TOTS production while being on stage in nothing but a dance belt, a well-placed marijuana leaf, and a smile, can directly attest to.  “Debbie” tells a familiar tale: a young, bright-eyed and innocent youth goes on a voyage of self-discovery and personal change while trying to follow a dream.

The only difference between “Debbie” and Shakespeare, really, is that Debbie’s dream is to be a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, the “’personal change”’ she and her fellow high-school cheerleaders go through is more related to hormones than anything else, and their voyage of self-discovery is just that, in the most literal and physical sense.

With tongue planted firmly in cheek, both the show and the cast are clearly having a great time letting loose in front of the audience.  The content itself is intrinsically cheesy and entertaining – the story is firmly entrenched in the free-wheelin’ 1970s and there’s no getting around it – but it’s the surprisingly nuanced performances by the cast that really bring the show’s irresistible charm to life.  Performing live comedy, especially the goofy, out-of-your-natural-element kind, is incredibly hard to do, and the actors and actresses in “Debbie” all shine in their own ways, playing to their characters’ singular quirks.

In the title role of Debbie, Emily Bohannon exudes the perfect balance of innocence and a growing understanding of sexuality and how the world revolves around it.  She’s cute as a button, unequivocally likable, and effortlessly carries the weight of most of the show’s musical numbers (it seems the show’s creators focused what little musical numbers there were primarily on the lead character, although the second act does feature some fun tunes for the entire cast to perform).  Maria Meschi plays Lisa, Debbie’s “frenemy” co-cheerleader; she does a fantastic job of playing a subtly evil high school girl, and she also gets the chance to show her vocal prowess in a second-act solo.  As Roberta, Linda Heiden absolutely nails the classic ditzy-cheerleader persona from top to bottom, and Andrea Heiden and Betsy Norton round out the cheerleading squad with excellent play off of each other as blissfully-unaware almost-lesbians.

My, what a large…loofah you have.

There are guys in the show, too.  Zachary Joyce portrays Rick, Debbie’s boyfriend and star high school quarterback; Joyce plays the role to spot-on perfection, presenting (physically and mentally) as the typical ‘70s porn-star leading man, replete with awesome moustache and an odd indifference to getting into sexytime situations with both guys and girls.  Ryan Dunn and Rich Tunnell both play double-duty as H.S. football players and a variety of other male-adult characters, with Dunn earning a special mention for playing a host of random but always-entertaining personas.  Rounding out the cast is Carl Cooper, who seems right at home in the finest of retro clothing as he also plays multiple roles of the Dallas Cowboys’ owner, a seemingly-innocent candle-store owner, and a not-so-innocent older man who first turns the girls on to the fact that “Teen Services” can mean a lot more than a simple innuendo.

The true mastery of the cast’s performance lies not in the “main” moments of dialogue and music, but in the small moments of comedy and “subtle” acting in between their words and when the primary attention of the audience is supposed to be directed to a different part of the stage.  Bohannon, Dunn, Joyce, and Linda Heiden particularly excel in this area, and it is this attention to detail and dedication to “acting through the end of the scene” that helps create a totally enjoyable experience for this show.

Choreographed with chintzy aplomb by Erin Cohenour (special mention to the tap-dancing glory of the song “The Dildo Rag”) and directed with a zealous embrace of all things tacky by Andrew Ranck, “Debbie Does Dallas” is a show that should certainly make you laugh and – pardon the innuendo – make you want to come again and again.  If porn mustaches were a rating system, this would be a 5-‘stacher for sure.  Yes, it’s an adult-themed show, but with this knowledge beforehand, you can obviously make your own choice to either relax and have fun with it, or simply pass on seeing it if you’re that concerned about what the ladies at the Bridge Club might think.  Personally, I highly recommend the first option, and then tell the card-playing ladies to lighten up and enjoy life a little bit.

Tickets, performance information, and more can be found on the Theater on the Square website.


“May-Berry” is coming, plus lots more!

Hello friends! I hae a few big piese of news to share with you, so let’s get right to it.

Jonathan MaberryFirst and foremost: the month of May on TheGOREScore.com will be devoted to New York Times best-selling author and recent Dead Letter “Lifetime Achievement Award” recipient Jonathan Maberry! During “May-berry,” The G.O.R.E. Score will be exclusively reviewing some of Maberry’s best-known works, including Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead, Patient Zero, Rot & Ruin (the 2010 Dead Letter Award winner for Best Fiction Novel), and others.

In addition to these exciting reviews, The G.O.R.E. Score is proud to welcome Maberry as the site’s first-ever guest reviewer! Maberry will be reviewing a piece of zombie media of his choosing, following the traditional G.O.R.E. review format established by Score creator Tony Schaab. I am both honored and humbled by Jonathan’s acceptance of this exciting collaboration – May can’t come soon enough!

Speaking of that month: going on right now through the end of May is the Great G.O.R.E. Giveaway, where the site is offering readers multiple chances to win tons of different zombie prizes (books, movies, comics, and more), including the grand prize of a brand-new Nook eReader! Details of the competition can be found online at http://thegorescore.com/win-stuff/ so please take a moment to stop by and find out how you can enter multiple times to increase your odds of winning!

Last but certainly not least: any readers who may be attending the huge HorrorHound convention in Indianapolis next weekend (March 25-27) can stop by The G.O.R.E. Score table to say hello! I’ll be selling acopies of all my books, including the not-yet-released “The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 2” with an EXCLUSIVE limited-edition variant cover, an homage to the classic “Evil Dead” poster. There will only be 25 copies of this limited-edition version available, and this is the ONLY place to buy Vol. 2 right now.

More big news coming down the pipeline in the next few weeks, including a brand-new review project that will be of special interest to authors and reviewers looking to expand their portfolio! Until next time…!


Men of Note: Tom Schriner

Tom and I are in love. Not in a gay way. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I’d like to dedicate my blog entry today to my brother-in-law, the man, the myth, the legend: Tom Schriner.

Tom is a man’s man. I once watched Tom wrestle a brown bear to the ground, and then tickle the bear until it giggled like a little girl and gave Tom its wallet.

Tom is intergalactic. A supernova is not really a star exploding; it’s the end result of Tom roundhouse-kicking an evil alien’s ass.

Tom is historic. He almost single-handedly ended the Cold War – Ronald Reagan helped him a schmeensy bit.

Tom is unapologetic. The only person that cried when Tom was born was the doctor – NEVER slap Tom.

Tom is successful. If someone ever says to you “If at first you don’t succeed…” then you know that you are not Tom Schriner.

Tom is a medical wonder. His internal systems don’t digest food – food willingly breaks apart in the presence of Tom’s insides.

Tom is powerful. When someone is in trouble, it’s a job for Superman; when Superman is in trouble, it’s a job for Tom Schriner.

Tom is a champion. He was permanently banned from competitive bullriding after a 1996 event in San Antonio, when he rode the bull 1240 miles from Texas to Illinois just to say hi to his parents.

Tom is a master of the elements. I once saw him put out a fire with nothing but gasoline.

Tom is entertaining. He doesn’t own a single TV, just a bunch of mirrors.

Tom defies the laws of physics. Contrary to popular belief, Tom isn’t invisible; light simply doesn’t have the guts to reflect off of him.

Tom is genetically superior. Females have XX chromosomes and males have XY chromosomes; Tom has YY chromosomes because he is twice the man you or I are.

Tom is cinematic. The reason that the “Ocean’s” movies started at 11 is because Tom kicked the shit out of the first 10.

Tom is biblical. The names “Adam” and “Eve” are just cover-ups; their names were really “Tom” and “Schriner.”

Tom is academic. When he got in trouble in school, he sent the teacher to the principal’s office.

Tom is a deadly weapon. Guns are warned not to play with Tom Schriner.

Tom can do anything. He makes Weeble People fall down.

Tom is magical. He doesn’t believe in Santa Claus, but you better believe Santa believes in Tom Schriner.

Tom is fierce. He can kill two stones with one bird.

Tom is athletic. He once ran so fast he hit 88mph and disappeared into thin air as twin trails of fire continued on in his absence.

Most importantly, Tom is a talented and generous man. Tom single-handedly created the covers for my first novel, “The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 1,” and my novella that is being released next week, “The Eagle Has Reanimated.” He’ll also be creating the cover to my upcoming release “The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 2,” a project for which I want to thank him for in advance right here and now!

The Eagle Has Reanimated The G.O.R.E. Score, Vol. 1

In addition to being an amazingly generous guy, he has a wide range of items he has done graphic design work on and single-handedly created, including t-shirts, magazine covers, logos for professional organizations, brochures, flyers, banners, and even the entire freakin’ side of a two-story building in Fort Wayne, IN. And he does it all while being a cool stay-at-home Dad and a great husband to my sister Jill.

Tom, you are THE MAN. If anyone needs any kind of graphic or creative work done, I highly encourage you to contact Tom, and he will deliver above and beyond your expectations. You can visit Tom at his professional site, Dad at Home Designs, and you can see his online t-shirt store at Red Pill Designs.