Nancy French has been seen in so many drag productions that some might be surprised she’s a natural born woman.
Often cast as the comedic sidekick to bigger than life drag queens like D’Arcy Drollinger, it’s hard to believe that French was born female. Some might take exception to that comment, but French wears it as a badge of honor as the drag queens she works with are for the most part bigger than life beautiful, so to be associated with their big hair and flawless make-up is truly a compliment. French has slowly been coming into her own – and more center stage. Perhaps since she’s noticed as a scene stealer, it’s smart for director/writer/star Drollinger to move French into the limelight, which she did in the recent original production of “Above and Beyond the Valley of the Ultra Showgirls.”
French is currently in rehearsal to play the starring role in Debbie Does Dallas: The Musical, opening July 12th for a four week run at SF Oasis. This show has so much interwoven and connected backstory that one might need to take notes to keep up. French says that it’s not a spoof from the mind of D’Arcy Drollinger, who has made light of many a topic in recent years that her fans would expect this.
Instead, this is a legimate licensed musical that played Off-Broadway in 2002 and actually already once played in San Francisco in 2006.
This is quite a spoofy show that one would think is a product from the creatives behind Oasis, but they are co-producing it with OMG, I Love That Show! Productions – mixing the talents from two companies.
“D’Arcy met the OMG people and many of the cast members when she did ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ at the Ray of the Light Theatre,” explains French, pointing out there’s a lot of crossover (and cross dressing) talent from that production. The musical “Debbie” is a spoof of one of the 1970s most famous porn films right behind “Deep Throat” and “Behind the Green Doors.” For those who attend the show expecting to see a porn musical, the show has been cock blocked, which is a fun term that French and I made up for the musical.
French is currently in rehearsal for the show to prepare for its July 12th opening. They are currently (cock) blocking the scenes which in essence marks where the actors stand and move and work within the set. The term takes on a whole new meaning with “Debbie” as in their blocking, they are also ensuring that cocks and vaginas do not get shown on stage, so they are literally working out careful use of lighting and set pieces to hide the candy! French seems well versed on the rules and laws and says that apparently, you can’t show more than breasts in a venue that serves alcohol. So “Debbie” will be offering titillation and push the envelope just a bit, but the show will not be X-Rated like its source material.
The story itself is very basic – it’s about a girl who wants to be a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader and to get to Dallas, minimum wage isn’t cutting it, so she and her friends figure out, they can raise the money faster by selling sex. “Most of the girls are giving it away free to their boyfriends,” says French, “so they figure why not get paid for it.” French points out that most of the dialog is actually lifted from the actual porn movie.”It’s oddly funny,” she points out, “that we are learning a script from the musical that was mostly adlibbed in the original movie.”
She says she’s been really enjoying getting this show up and running as not only is it fun as they ensure no actual nudity ends up on stage, but “our director is a choreographer and the cheerleading scenes are at ‘Bring It On’ and ‘Cheer SF’ level.” French points out director Leslie Waggoner played Debbie in San Francisco’s 2006 production of the show. Also, for such a light hearted show, French is almost taking on her role like a method actor, getting deep in her character. She recalls that her fun, down-on-her-luck character in Drollinger’s “Shit & Champagne” was also named Debbie, so she’s thinking this the Dallas Debbie might be the earlier, younger and innocent version of that old rundown Debbie, so it’s giving her a prospective on how she will deliver this vulnerable, virginal Debbie to its audience.
French has the comedic timing and deadpan delivery to keep making a name for herself. Yet, with all that she has ahead of her, she still is very humble. In our chat, she not only talked highly of her costars and people behind the scenes, but she spelled each of their names so the press won’t get it wrong. If you want a laugh and to prepare for this show, you can seek out the original 1978 movie. Many scenes are available on many public porn tube sites.
But to see the riotous musical, get tickets and information at sfoasis.com.