Come and Knock On Our Door…

D'Arcy​ ​Drollinger, Heklina & Adam Roy in 'Three's Company LIVE!' | By Chris Mann & D’Arcy Drollinger

Set in Santa Monica, ​California, Three’s Company chronicled the​ ​​innuendo-laden, slapstick-prone misadventures of the affably​ ​klutzy bachelor Jack Tripper (played by John Ritter) and the two​ ​single, attractive women–one a cute, down-to-earth brunette​ ​named Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt), the other a sexy, dimwitted​ ​blonde named Christmas “Chrissy” Snow (Suzanne Somers). The​ ​three shared an apartment in order to beat the high cost of living,​ ​but Jack was also present to provide “manly protection.” Though he​ ​never broke his vow of keeping a “strictly platonic” relationship​ ​with his roommates (the three were really best friends who always​ ​looked after each other), the series was rife with double entendre​ ​suggesting they were doing much naughtier stuff.

Antagonists in this domestic farce were the trio’s downstairs​ ​landlords– the prudish Stanley Roper, an Archie Bunker-type​ ​played by Norman Fell, and later the comically swaggering “ladies​ ​man” Ralph Furley, played by​ ​Don Knotts.​

T​he landlords were so suspicious of the “threesome” arrangement that they​ ​would not permit it until after Jack told them he was gay, a “lifestyle” against​ ​which, ironically, neither discriminated by refusing housing. Though Jack was a​ ​heterosexual with many girlfriends, he masqueraded as an effeminate “man’s​ ​man” around the near-sighted Roper, who called him “one of the girls,” and​ ​Furley, who often tried to “convert” him; this comic device played heavily at​ f​?irst but was toned down considerably by the show’s fourth season.

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Jack Tripper (played by John Ritter), down-to-earth brunette​ ​named Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt), dimwitted​ ​blonde named Christmas “Chrissy” Snow (Suzanne Somers).

When out of Roper’s and Furley’s reach, Jack and his upstairs buddy, Larry​ ​Dallas (Richard Kline), leered at and lusted after every female in sight,​ ​including, in early episodes, Janet and Chrissy. (Chrissy, especially, was prone to​ ​bouncing around the apartment braless in tight sweaters when she wasn’t clad​ ​in a towel, nightie, short-shorts or bathing suit.) The irony here was that even​ ​though sex was so ingrained in the Three’s Company consciousness, nobody on​ ​the show ever seemed to be doing it–not even the show’s only married​ ​characters, the sex-starved Helen Roper (Audra Lindley) and her impotent​ ​handyman husband, Stanley, the butt of numerous faulty plumbing jokes.

Most critics called Three’s Company an illegitimate attempt to use the TV​ ​sitcom’s new openness for its own cheap laughs. But Gerard Jones, author of​ ​Honey, I’m Home: Sitcoms: Selling the American Dream, notes that the minds​ ​behind Three’s Company intelligently responded to the times. He suggests that​ ​producers Nicholl, Ross and West recognized that even the highly praised work​ ​of producer Norman Lear’s shows “had always been simple titillation.” The​ ​producers simply went a step further. They “took advantage of TV’s new​ ​hipness” to present even more titillation “in completely undemanding form,”​ ​thus creating “an ingenious trivialization that the public was waiting for.”

Though Three’s Company jiggled beneath the thin clothing of titillation, the​ ​show was basically innocent and harmless, a contradiction that annoyed some​ ​critics. Its comedy, framed in the contemporary trapping of sexual innuendo,​ ​was basically broad farce in the tradition of I Love Lucy, very physical and ?illed​ ​with​ ​with misunderstandings. (Lucille Ball loved Three’s Company and Ritter’s​ ​pratfalls so much she hosted the show’s 1982 retrospective special). As fast-paced,​ ​pie-in-your-face farce, Three’s Company spent little time on characterization. But​ ​underlying themes of care and concern among the roommates often fueled the​ ​comedy and occasionally led to a tender resolve by episode’s end.

Three’s Company ​f​?irst appeared on television Tuesday,​ ​March 15th, 1977 at 9:30 p.m. The remaining ​f​?ive episodes​ ​of the ​f​?irst season aired Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m.-never​ ​falling out of the Nielsen’s Top Ten. The show was a hit with​ ​audiences though the critics were not always as kind.

Behind the scenes three was company until fall 1980, when Somers and her husband/manager, Alan Hamel, asked for a​ ​raise from $30,000 per episode to $150,000 per episode plus 10% of the show’s pro?its. Co-stars Ritter and DeWitt,​ ​confused and angry, refused to work with Somers, whose role was reduced to a phone-call from a separate soundstage at​ ​the end of each episode (Chrissy had been sent to take care of her ailing mother in Fresno).

Actor John Ritter points towards guests attending a press preview luncheon for television's "Three's Company," and its spinoff show "The Ropers," in Los Angeles, Sept. 6, 1979.  From left to right:  Audra Lindley, Joyce DeWitt, Ritter, Suzanne Somers, Don Knotts, and Norman Fell.  Lindley and Fell star in "The Ropers."  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Actor John Ritter points towards guests attending a press preview luncheon for television’s “Three’s Company,” and its spinoff show “The Ropers,” in Los Angeles, Sept. 6, 1979. From left to right: Audra Lindley, Joyce DeWitt, Ritter, Suzanne Somers, Don Knotts, and Norman Fell. Lindley and Fell star in “The Ropers.” (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Though viewership dropped when Somers left, Three’s Company remained very popular, focusing more on Ritter’s​ ​physical abilities and his character’s transition from cooking student to owner of Jack’s Bistro, a French cuisine​ ​restaurant. Three’s Company, weathering key cast changes and America’s waning interest in sitcoms, remained a top ten​ ​hit through the 1982-83 season. But in 1984, after 174 episodes, a ?inal People’s Choice Award​ ​as Favorite Comedy Series and an eighth, embattled season in which it dropped out of the top thirty​ ​in the face of competition from NBC’s comically violent The A-Team, Three’s Company changed its​ ​format.

Three’s Company, though later considered tame television, pushed the proverbial envelope in the​ ​late 1970s, opening the door for sexier, if not sillier, comedies offering audiences both titillation​ ​and mindless escape.​

threes company collage-2Whether you loved watching Jack, Janet and Chrissy when you were younger or have just caught​ ​an episode or two on TV Land, you’ll love the spin the show gets from drag stars D’Arcy​ ​Drollinger & Heklina, who not only play roommates on stage, but also play business partners​ ​during the day as co-owners of Oasis.​

​“On some levels Three’s Company is like a time capsule”, says D’Arcy who plays Chrissy Snow​ ​and also directs. “The concept of it being so outrageous to have men and women living together​ ​seems ludicrous today. But so does the broad physicality the actors brought to it. They are​ ​essentially all clowns.”

Speaking of clowns, who better to round out the cast, but some truly larger-than-life​ ​performers and an actual clown. Adam Roy delivers a punch as Jack Tripper with his​ ​brand of physical prowess, Laurie Bushman, hot off her stint in Star Trek Live, brings​ ​The sleazy, yet lovable neighbor, Larry, to life; and the uber-talented Matthew Martin,​ ​along with Sara Moore, who was recently tapped as the new director of the Circus Center’s​ ​Clown Conservatory, are perfectly cast as Mr. And Mrs. Roper.

“D’Arcy and I both grew up on the show and still love it today,” says Heklina, who plays Janet​ ​Wood, “It made sense to put the show in our 2016 line up. It’s hilarious!”​

What happens when a man pretends to be gay in order to share an apartment with two women…​ ​Whacky high-jinx, that’s what! And this show promises a lot of that!


Oasis presents their latest drag parody, Three’s Company Live!, a sendup of the infamous 70’s sitcom starring John Ritter, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt that changed the airwaves forever with their racy subject matter, sexual innuendos and over-the-top physical comedy.

Starring D’Arcy Drollinger, Heklina, Adam Roy & Laurie Bushman.  With Matthew Martin & Sara Moore as the Ropers.  Adapted and directed by D’Arcy Drollinger.

Oasis, Nightclub & Cabaret
298 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
boxoffice@sfoasis.com / 415-795-3180

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