DEBBIE DOES DALLAS - THE MUSICAL by Andrew Sherman, Susan L. Schwartz, Erica Schmidt, Tom Kitt and Jonathan Callicut, and HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask, directed by Penelope Corrin (Ghost Light Projects). At the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). To November 8. $22.50-$35. 1-888-222-6608. See listing. Rating: NNN
No one watches porn for the plot, so once it's clear that Debbie Does Dallas - The Musical adapts only the story (and not the nudity or sex) from the original 1978 flick, it's up to conventional aspects of musical theatre to hold our interest.[rssbreak]
Unfortunately, the expectedly weak plot (Debbie and pals need to raise money so she can travel to Dallas to become a pro cheerleader) hasn't been punched up and serves only as stereotype-heavy shoe leather between flaccid musical numbers that sub for sex scenes.
While Jason Franco's suggestive choreography that packs in the sex jokes is funny if a little repetitive, songs performed to a pre-recorded track consistently fall flat.
Saving the show from downright boredom is Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, who consistently nails the required comic register as a batch of horny male townsfolk.
Things get better on the other side of this double bill when killer local electro-rock duo Vicious Guns make up the core of Hedwig's live band, the Angry Inch. Grafting a live band onto a show can be hit-and-miss, but Richard Haydon (guitar) and Jenny MacIsaac (bass) totally rock as Hedwig (Seth Drabinsky) spins her glammy yarn about starting a band in America after enduring a botched sex change to escape East Berlin.
While Drabinsky's German accent needs work (words keep getting lost), his energy and singing during full-on Bowie- and Iggy-inspired rock numbers is stadium-sized.
In the end, Hedwig beats Debbie, thanks to an intelligent plot that's more than skin deep.