Landless Theater Company’s “Doyle and Debbie Show” Returns

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The Landless Theater Company’s production of Doyle and Debbie’s Show by Bruce Arntson (reviewed below) returns for a weekend engagement at New Spire Arts (15 West Patrick Street, Frederick, MD) from November 12-14, 2021. Tickets ($ 28.50) are available in line. For customer safety, all spectators must wear masks and show proof of vaccination at the door.

‘The Doyle and Debbie Show’ by Landless Theater Company

Review of Terri Magers originally published on February 19, 2019

In an affectionate, albeit irreverent, tribute to the great country classics, The Doyle and Debbie Show, by Bruce Arntson, dates back to the days when Porter Wagoner, George Jones, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette were regularly shown on air and on jukeboxes across the country.

Andrew Lloyd Baughman as Doyle and Karissa Swanigan-Upchurch as Debbie in Landless Theater Company’s production of ‘The Doyle and Debbie Show.’ Photo courtesy of the Landless Theater Company.

As Doyle Mayfield’s best friend and conductor Buddy Apple explains before the show, this performance is Doyle and Debbie’s return to Music City after 11 years in the limelight. Doyle has now been sober for three years, but tonight is the anniversary of his father’s death, so he’s in a very vulnerable state right now. For those who don’t recognize Debbie, that’s because she’s a brand new Debbie, Doyle’s third Debbie to be exact. He discovered it while singing with his band at the VFW in his hometown of Mooney’s Gap, Tennessee. A single mother of three, this Debbie dreams of becoming a famous country singer in Nashville and hopes Doyle will be her ticket to stardom. But when Doyle starts drinking and having an emotional breakdown, how much can this Debbie, who’s only been with him for six weeks, get before she breaks down?

Throughout the evening you hear stories from their lives and the songs they perform. There are hits like “Stock Car Love”, romantic numbers like “Blue Stretch Pants” and touching breakup songs like “When You’re Screwing Other Women (Think of Me)”. Doyle and Debbie also perform a medley of their greatest hits, ending with patriotic fervor, waving American flags, as they sing “So say your prayers to the man above and thank their Merles and Hanks. Look who has more guns and tanks God loves America best.

Like the hapless has-been Doyle Mayfield, Andrew Lloyd Baughman shines. He perfectly embodies the stereotypical classic country singer with his fringed black suede jacket and western shirts as he tells trivia and sings, yodels and scats. He sings comedic songs like “Snowbanks of Life” about writing the name of the woman you love in bright golden letters in the snow with sincerity. However, one of the highlights of Baughman’s performance is when he tells the story of his father’s passing and the two things his father left him, then sings “Daddy’s Hair” to the delight and the public shock.

Karissa Swanigan-Upchurch is just a darling in her portrayal of Debbie. Dressed in a sequined top, shiny jacket, red and black miniskirt, and cowboy boots, Swanigan-Upchurch plays the star-struck dreamer who discovers the star is quickly fading. She sings lyrics such as “Just keep me barefoot and pregnant, that’s all I want to be” (“Barefoot & Pregnant”) in Doyle’s attempt to write a song from a woman’s point of view and “My PHD in ESP surpasses your MA in STD “(” ABC’s of Love “) with such seriousness as the audience roars with joy.

Ray Shaw as Buddy Apple, Doyle’s longtime best friend, is not only a talented musician, but he’s also charming as he hosts the party, accompanies the singers, tries to keep Doyle in check, and then sing a quick list of foods. in the song “Fat Women In Trailers” that any modern major-general would envy of “Pirates of Penzance”.

Ray Shaw as Buddy Apple in the production of
Ray Shaw as Buddy Apple in the Landless Theater Company production of “The Doyle and Debbie Show”. Photo courtesy of the Landless Theater Company.

Director John Sadowsky has assembled a stellar cast to bring this show to life. With the use of minimal sets, we were able to follow Doyle and Debbie on stage and behind the scenes. He also included an audience member by incorporating Facebook Live posts during a few issues of the show. Director Amanda Williams kept the show running smoothly while operating the lights and sound. It’s a small room, but the sound wasn’t too loud and the balance between music and vocals was perfect.

Whether you’re a classic country fan or not, this hysterical and rowdy parody of the stars of yesteryear is unbeatable. You’ll want to put on some cowboy boots and go for a run with the performers. You don’t want to miss Landless Theater Company’s production of Doyle and Debbie’s Show. This show is aimed at an informed public.

Duration: 90 minutes without intermission.

Doyle and Debbie’s Show took place in February and March 2019 at the DC Arts Center, 2438 18th Street NW, Washington, DC.


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