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Theater Review: ‘Debbie’ triggers giggles at Venice Theatre

By Jay Handleman, Herald Tribune, April 28, 2018

Musical spoof of porn film ‘Debbie Does Dallas’ runs through May 20

The title may suggest otherwise, but there’s really nothing dirty about the Venice Theatre production of “Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical.”

Sure, it’s a parody of one of the most successful pornographic films of all time, and there are sexually suggestive scenes involving candles, bananas and an oversized locker room shower. But this show about a group of “good” high school girls who will to do almost anything to pay for a trip to audition for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders is nothing more than slightly naughty.

It is also silly yet smart, and depending on your own mood, intermittently funny or potentially hilarious. I enjoyed a chuckle or two.

Although it is billed as a musical, conceived by Susan L. Schwartz, adapted by Erica Schmidt, composed by Andrew Sherman, it is really more of a play (featuring some original film dialogue) with snippets of songs and a couple of big ballads.

Heather Weiskerger returns to the local stage after a long absence with a delightful performance as the title character, Debbie Benton, an aware but innocent girl whose only dream is to become a professional cheerleader for the Cowboys. (This show was written long before the recent reports of how badly professional cheerleaders are treated by their teams and the harassment and low pay they face.)

Debbie’s cheerleader friends, most of them sexually active (or at least curious) team up to help her raise the money to get to Dallas, but they quickly learn that minimum wage jobs won’t cover the airfare. When they realize men might be interested in them, you can imagine how they’re going to raise the money.

Weiskerger has the perfect upbeat, can-do spirit with a naivete that gives way to a growing self awarenes.She’s joined by Alana Opie as the bitchy Lisa, who wants Debbie’s boyfriend for herself; Jasmine Deal as Tammy, who worries about ruining her chances at a future run for the U.S. Senate; Morgan Graves as the lustful Donna; and Ariella Pizarro as the seemingly oblivious Roberta.

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