Nashville Spoof Scores Hit at Stockton Civic Theatre

Sierra Fraser, Nathan Origer and Martin Lehman. Photo: Dennis Beasley
You’ve undoubtedly heard of Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner, Tammy Wynette and George Jones, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, and other country music stars and superstars. But how about Doyle and Debbie? Ever heard of them? 
If not, the good news is you don’t have to travel the 4-hour, 18-minute flight time or the 2,258 car miles to Nashville to catch their show. The delightful satire of “The Doyle and Debbie Show” is now playing at the Stockton Civic Theatre, and whether you’re a country music fan or a country music skeptic, this is one concert you don’t want to miss.
Here is all the whine and twang, the hoot ‘n’ holler, and the hee and haw you expect, coupled with a few surprises you aren’t in the least expecting in this hilarious Nashville parody.
With Martin Lehman hamming and scamming it up as Doyle Mayfield, a faded country personality with numerous ex-wives and a few “Debbies” serving as his co-star, and with Sierra Fraser sweetening the concert as the newest Debbie on the playboy’s list, you’ve got a comedic couple  worth applauding.
The new Debbie is a single mom with songs to sing and three kids to feed, hoping to ride Doyle’s proposed comeback to a career of her own. It isn’t long, however, before she begins to sense that the road to fame is taking a detour. 
Sierra Fraser. Photo: Dennis Beasley
It’s easy to become a D&D fan, given the artistry of their singing, dancing and acting talents. Lehman and Fraser combine to bring their characters to life and teach us a few things about the other side of Nashville entertainment—the one where hopefuls play honky-tonks and haunt the fringes of elusive stardom.
Given the musical renditions and off-stage bickering of this mismatched couple, you may begin to suspect that the chance of Doyle and Debbie becoming country music notables is equal to the your chance of being elected president. Their music can make you sing along and get your toes tapping, but their ambition to become Nashville icons is as laughable as the lyrics of their songs.
SCT’s intimate and interactive Pam Kitto Black Box Theatre is the setting for this fun-filled farce and has been converted to resemble the kind of club in which you’d expect to find Doyle and Debbie. It features up-front cocktail tables, a shimmering background curtain emblazoned with D&D initials, and a bar that specializes in George DIckel Tennessee whiskey, served by a friendly barista in a cowboy hat. No wonder you get the feeling that you’ve exchanged Stockton for a Nashville excursion. If you’d rather not go the full distance, soft drinks are available at the lobby’s refreshment stand and comfortable seating is fully in place.     
Martin Lehman. Photo: Dennis Beasley.
The proximity of the audience to Lehman and Fraser makes you feel not only close to the performers, but part of their act. It also makes you appreciate the difficulty of roles they make look easy and natural. They’re aided in their efforts by director Dennis Beasley and a creative crew that includes stage manger Kyle Rex Beal, set designer Cal Cichocki, costume designer Jenny Key and wig designer (and noted SCT actress) Melissa Esau.    
Shortly after the show gets underway, you’ll be aware that composer Bruce Arntson has changed the rules of the country music game in a way that makes this both a tribute to the genre and a mockery of it.
And speaking of rules, be sure to watch Debbie’s reaction as Doyle forgets performance protocol and begins to reveal a few personal problems such as the fact that he may be haunted by a family secret. This bit of gothic absurdity seems like Arntson is upending the show, but not to worry. Doyle and Debbie are the kind of performers who can survive almost anything, including the hoots ‘n’ hollers of their enthusiastic audience.     
While Doyle and Debbie may lack show biz smarts and sophistication, they’re not without a certain charm. And though the lyrics of some of their songs (such as “Barefoot and Pregnant” and “Blue Stretch Pants) shatter the conventions of etiquette and sometimes seem downright silly (try to keep a straight face while you listen to the wonderfully witty alphabet code song), there’s no questioning that these two deliver the goods for those of us who can’t help cheering when “D&D” ask if we would care for “one more song.” 
One more? Dare we ask for two?
Well, as one ecstatic theatregoer put it when the lights came back on and the exit doors opened,  “That was so much darn fun I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.”  
 My thought exactly.
The Doyle and Debbie Show
Thursday Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m.
Through March 9 at Stockton Civic Theatre, 2312 Rosemarie Lane
General admission $23
Box office: (209) 473-2424
Business office: (209) 473-2400

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  • So much fun! Hilarious show and loved the setting too. What talent these actors/singers offer us right here in Stockton! Love not having to go out of town for a great performance like this. This show goes on my list of favorites👏🙌🏻👏

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