Updated: Mar 20, 2019
When you get to a theater and open the program to find the play has been written (book, lyrics, and music), directed by, and stars the same people, well…there’s a tendency to groan and think you’re in for a night of sheer personal indulgence by said people. Such is the situation with The Blanche DeBris Emergency Xmas Broadcast now playing on the main stage of the Onyx Theatre.
The play itself is silly, a bit like melodrama complete with the villain, the hero, and the damsel in distress. And you expect it to be full of eye-rolling schtick. But Blanche DeBris entered, and Eric “Travis” Wilson as Woody strode in, and…all we could do was sit back and enjoy the fun.
The script is full of adult innuendo, political jabs, and politically incorrect bits. But don’t despair, the message of Christmas is delivered. This cast knows exactly how to give it all with the proper amount of over-the-top spice.
All action takes place in a run-down, grime-filled television and radio station in the town of Slippery Crease, Nevada. Troy Heard has provided such detail, with a few surprises, that it’s almost impossible to catch every little piece. And the whole is complemented nicely by the lighting concept and design brought by ALIOS, with strings of party and holiday lights everywhere.
Blanche DeBris is a delight. She takes the stage with absolute confidence. Everything about her, from vocal flair to the way she moves, is fully realized. When she sings about the ability to make friends, even with inanimate objects - like a pizza box, an empty Chinese take-out carton, and a condom - her true, and impressive, vocal range becomes apparent.
And the woman is not shy in the least. In fact, one might call her fearless; a requirement for this type of role. Much like the guys of Forever Plaid and their “Entire Ed Sullivan Show in Six Minutes and Thirty-seven Seconds,” Blanche does them one better by delivering The Sound of Music in seven minutes flat - complete with costumes.
Woody is a typical cowpoke with a bit too much interest in tending the sheep (he declares it’s consensual) and Wilson brings him to bear with the proper dull-minded drawl. In his attempts to save Blanche from ruin, bit by bit Wilson lets us see where his true love interest lies. He plays it in proper melodrama style, yet it isn’t overbearing.
Stephen R. Sisson has double duty. In the role of Little Drama Boy, doomsayer yet faithful assistant, Sisson manages to find the right temperament to mine the laughs and his timing in delivery is great. But he really shines when he bursts onto stage as the villain, Mr. Averice. For me, he delivered the biggest laugh of the evening with a single-line homage to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? In fact, there are so many pokes at film in this script, we kept waiting for him to find a way to give us a bellowing “Stella!”
Lily Starr, Strawberry Tallcake, and Sugar Shagmore, make up the singing, tap-dancing troupe called the Three Queens of Orient R. And if you believe those are the real names of the cast members, well, you’ve got a lot to learn about having fun in producing a spoof such as this. The ladies do a terrific job in rounding out the cast, delivering the naughty along with the nice.
We shouldn’t leave out the disembodied voice of Miss Wanda, the late owner of the station, provided by Dusty Summers. The eeriness segues into a voice fully understandable in the right quantity. Suspicions are it is Blanche DeBris herself, but we could be wrong.
Yes, there are a few minor missteps by the cast; gaps due to missed cues, and some late entrances. Since the fourth wall is deliberately broken early on, with an axe no less! knowing looks to the audience would’ve covered nicely.
So, what’s the big emergency? Go and find out. You never know, you may be able to help poor Blanche.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday - Sunday through December 19
Where: Onyx Theatre, 953-16B E Sahara Avenue