Friday, Mar 23, 2018
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Ms. Rose's to stage 'Debbie Does Dallas'

Debbie Does Dallas is heading to Perrysburg, but it's not the X-rated film from 1979.

It's a play, conceived by Susan Schwartz and adapted by Erica Schmidt, with music by composer Andrew Sherman. And it opens tomorrow in Ms. Rose's Dinner Theater, where producer Claudette Davis and director Ida Steele both promise that there are no naughty words or nudity. There is, however, lots of innuendo, so it's strongly suggested that audience members be 18 or older.

Steele is making her local debut as director at Ms. Rose's.

"I lived here 25 to 30 years ago, then moved to Texas after my divorce," she said.

In Texas, she attended Lamar University in Beaumont, earning her bachelor's degree in theater at age 55. She worked quite a bit with stage productions in the Lone Star state, both directing and performing in shows such as On Golden Pond and The Odd Couple.

After a recent move back to northwest Ohio, she sent her resume around, and Davis called her for an interview.

"I was looking to do a play, and [Davis] saw on my resume that I had directed, and she offered me this job."

That was less than a month ago. Escanaba in Da Moonlight had been scheduled to open earlier this month, but casting problems put it on hold. Davis said she had been planning to produce Debbie Does Dallas in the future, so she shifted gears and called Dramatists Play Service to secure early rights.

Since then, Steele and her cast have been putting in long hours and intense rehearsals to get Debbie ready for its local premiere tomorrow.

"The cast has been tremendous," Steele said. There are quite a few racy moments in the play, and toning them down while keeping the humor intact has been a collaborative effort.

The title character is Debbie Benton, captain of her high school's cheerleading team in a small Texas town. Debbie's dream is to become a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys, and she is tasting success when she receives a letter offering her an audition.

But her parents believe that she's too young for such a job and refuse to pay for her travel expenses. So Debbie enlists her pals to work odd jobs and help her earn the cash she needs.

Debbie is played by Vicki Clyce, who is also the choreographer of the show. John Sweeney plays Rick, Debbie's boyfriend, who is unhappy about her career goals.

The rest of the cast comprises Karen Cook, Katy Feldhacker, Stacey Eckel, Katii Rupp, Jacob Donnelly, and Brian McCabe, all from Toledo and surrounding suburbs.

"It's been an interesting situation," Steele said. "I've never had to put a show together that fast."

But, she said, it's coming along well and will be ready for the (figurative) curtain to go up tomorrow.

"Debbie Does Dallas" debuts tomorrow in Ms. Rose's Dinner Theater at the DC Ranch, 25740 North State Rt. 25, Perrysburg. Doors open at 6 p.m. for the buffet, and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $43 for evening performances, $40 for matinees. The show runs on a limited schedule through mid-January. The schedule through October is 6 p.m. Oct. 6, 10, 13, and 27, and 3 p.m. Oct. 15. Information: 419-874-8505.

High school is also the theme for the Williams County Community Theater's latest production, but it is more family friendly.

Grease opens tonight in Montpelier for a two-week run.

Set in the 1950s, the classic musical stars Chris Moore and Kata Beach as summer sweethearts Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski, a new girl in town. When Sandy unexpectedly transfers to his high school, Danny is still attracted to the sweet and proper girl, but his need to act tough in front of his gang, the T-Birds, causes problems in their relationship.

Directed and choreographed by Theron Steinke with the assistance of Mary Beth Snider, Grease features such songs as "Summer Nights," "Greased Lightning," "We Go Together," and "Born to Hand Jive." The large cast is drawn from Archbold, Bryan, Defiance, Edgerton, Edon, Montpelier, and West Unity.

The Williams County Community Theater opens "Grease" tonight in the playhouse at 501 South East Ave., Montpelier, Ohio. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 8. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. Information: 419-485-3861.

- Nanciann Cherry

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