Spotlight: Debbie Does Dallas the Musical

John Autey

This production surely extracts a good deal of mileage from its premise and the attendant question it elicits: Just how, exactly, does a theater stage an adaptation of a porn film? Quite broadly, it turns out. Michael Hoover's set is an exercise in visual insubordination, with inventively vile shades of pink and green and a skyline featuring a hand wrapped around a skyscraper to evoke, shall we say, manual stimulation. For all that, though, the show's lack of nudity (save for Carson Lee's bare-assed turn in a jockstrap) and stylized tongue-in-cheek (no comment) sex scenes should keep the Vice Squad from surrounding the exits. The "plot" is as follows: Debbie, a high school cheerleader, has tried out and won a spot with the Dallas Cowgirls. The catch is that the Cowboys won't pay her way to the Big D (NFL teams being notoriously skinflint, in a fine example of porn-movie logic). After some efforts at earning money while standing up, she and her cheerleading colleagues form something called Teen Services, which essentially provides sexual access to nubile young women for a variety of gnarly older men. Kristen Husby plays the heroine with a suitably preposterous cluelessness, and her friends comprise a well-rounded mix of ridiculous stereotypes (the slut, the bookworm, the dumb blonde). Director Zach Curtis's cast draws heavily on the oft-mocked school of Porn Acting, and the music is a fairly horrid sort of sub-rock diabolically engineered, to these ears, to up the crap quotient. Anyone insisting on a conventionally quality musical will leave the theater scarred, but for those inclined to go along with a bit of stoopid fun, the result is an 80-minute distraction with more than a few laughs. The script is full of little zingers, like Debbie's moony dream of a big-time future chock-full of the profound and awesome satisfactions of "charity functions and car shows...soldiers and car-dealer men." And not in my recent memory have a show's lyrics contained both "Touch the perineum!" and "Is that your finger in my ass?" One of the two, sure, maybe. But both?

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