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'Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical'

photo courtesy of Ian Wender
Lisa (Nicole Lang, left), Debbie (Jenny Lopercio) and Roberta (Kendra Ryan) are All-American cheerleaders on a mission, in the spirited spoof e
By Celeste Meiffren
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 18, 2004
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It'll blow you away

Most people our age first came into contact with "Debbie Does Dallas" either on VH1's "I love the 70s" or before the UA cracked down on illegal downloading in the dorms. Regardless, "Debbie Does Dallas" is one of the most celebrated porn films in recent history. And for the first time in Tucson, "Debbie Does Dallas" is performing at Club Congress.

"Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical" (yes, you read it right) was an idea conceived by Susan Schwartz, adapted by Erica Schmidt and composed by Andrew Sherman. "@-Pro," a Phoenix-based theater group, decided to do "Debbie" because of its edginess and slick humor. Also, they wanted to do something that no one was expecting.

"When we tell people what project we're working on, we see their brow begin to knit as the words 'Debbie Does Dallas' come out of our mouths. Then immediately they break into a huge grin when 'the Musical' comes out right after," said "Debbie" director Jim Linde. "The notion of a porn-based musical comedy is so unexpected and tantalizing, people can't help being intrigued."

Because "Debbie" is so edgy and risqué, there were some problems with casting, Linde said.

If you go...

"Debbie Does Dallas: the Musical"
Friday, Nov. 19
9 p.m.
Club Congress

"Try phoning an actor and saying you've got a role for them, then describe the onstage acts they'll be required to do with bananas and candles, not to mention with the other cast members! Needless to say it's a tough sell," said Linde.

Despite being a tough sell, Linde was still able to find great actors who were not afraid to commit themselves to the project. Nicole Lang, who plays Lisa in "Debbie," said she was interested immediately.

"I'm always interested in doing projects that are different, new or a little off the beaten path. Don't get me wrong, I've done my fair share of mainstream stuff, but honestly, this was an opportunity to do something unlike anything else I've ever done before," Lang said. "And I'll have to admit, I was a little curious about how they were going to pull this off on stage. This is the first time I, or anyone else in this area, have done 'Debbie.' No pun intended."

After the cast was assembled, they all sat down and watched the '70s original "Debbie Does Dallas" porn film together, as a group. Lang took notes on her character Lisa, and found some areas for change and improvement with her character.

"Well, in the movie, the joke about Lisa is that she never wears underwear,

not even in her cheerleading uniform or tennis skirt. I always feel the need to

wear underwear," Lang said. "But Lisa still does have a lot of risqué scenes involving showers and saunas, which are taken right from the movie. I have to say, when we got together to watch the movie, I did learn a lot about technique. But I would hope that I'm a much better actress than the girl in the porn."

Since "Debbie Does Dallas" is porn, there is not much character development - it's pretty much just sex. The writers, director and actors, therefore, have their work cut out for them in trying to deepen the characters. All of the characters are fleshed out in the musical so that the show lasts longer than the 15 minutes of dialogue in the movie.

"There is more emphasis on the characters other than Debbie in the musical. In the movie, it's hard to figure out who's who sometimes. Probably because people watching a porn don't really care, unless they're all involved in group sex or something," Lang said. "The only difference really is that the musical attempts to add more depth to the characters regarding how they relate to each other, and of course, the actual sex acts are replaced with song and dance numbers."

Staying true to the original work, the writer has also retained a lot of the dialogue from the movie. This gives the show a good comedic springboard.

"Anyone who has ever seen porn knows that the scripts are cheesy at best. We've definitely accentuated that cheesiness and I think that's what makes the show so funny. That and any time you have to put sex onstage without actually doing the deed, it makes for some creative and definitely humorous moments," Lang said.

"All of us cast members are fond of saying that we didn't have a single rehearsal, or performance for that matter, where we haven't been laughing like crazy at some point. I just think there are some things that are so over the top that you can't help but laugh. It's stuff that leaves people wondering, did that really just happen?" said Lang.

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