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  Play Details

The Doyle & Debbie Show

Royal George Theatre
1641 N. Halsted Chicago

Doyle Mayfield, an old-guard country star with a handful of hits back in the 70s and 80s, is reviving his career thirty years, four wives, and three Debbies later. The new Debbie, a single mother with three children, sees this lovable lothario as her last chance to make it big in Nashville – but she also questions hitching her star to this loose cannon.

Thru - May 27, 2012



Price: $43.50-$49.50

Show Type: Musical

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  The Doyle & Debbie Show Reviews

Chicago Tribune - Highly Recommended

"... These performers have palpable affection for their creations. Crucially, the show comes with respect not only for the real dreams of those all-American strivers who come from little, pursue knowledge at the Smoky Mountains Community College, and naturally want to share their worldview with the great country universe, but also for those who try to hang on to fading careers because they can't live without being in front of their fans. In other words, there is nothing mean or vicious. You like spending time with Doyle and Debbie."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...The creation of songwriter Bruce Arntson, who might well be dubbed “the Stephen Sondheim of country music sendups,” it is 90 minutes of goofy perfection — clever, hilarious, wacky and brilliantly performed by Arnston (as Doyle Mayfield, the washed up and decidedly creepy country singer), and the bravura Jenny Littleton, playing the latest of his many “Debbies.” Watching Littleton, a performer with a sensational, do anything voice, terrific comic acting chops and knockout looks, you have to wonder why she hasn’t become a full-blown star far beyond the Nashville city limits. (It won’t be long.)"
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Hedy Weiss


Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended

"... Just let yourself fall into the hilarious improbability of this combination parody and homage, set in a bar outside Nashville. Bruce Arntson and Jenny Littleton are nothing short of fabulous as the ill-matched pair--a half-crazed old trouper fending off 90-proof demons, and a sweet-voiced but foolish single mom getting the first inklings that this may be another in her series of poor choices. The show works partly because of its shameless wit, partly because Arntson and Littleton have their characters down cold, and partly because of their impressive C&W chops."
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Tony Adler


NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Show creator Bruce Arntson’s Doyle is a charismatic ringleader, and while he does not have an operatic voice, he impresses with a vocal range that includes yodeling and a sort of country rapping. (The show sags a fair bit during his over-the-top “Daddy’s Hair” bit, which probably just killed with soused patrons when the show was a hit in its Nashville bar run, but not so much with the more sober grayhairs at the Royal George.) Jenny Littleton not only has the voice of a country star (and the material here to use it), but she really nails the downhome naif persona."
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Brian Hieggelke


Windy City Times - Recommended

"...The hallmark of good parody is how closely it adheres to the conventions of its target. Sitting sober in an urban theater and attentive to every word, socially sensitive audiences might be unnerved by Doyle and Debbie's straightforward humor, but in an Old Style-soaked saloon on the Saturday night after payday, you could line-dance to "Whine Whine Twang Twang" without missing a step."
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Mary Shen Barnidge


Time Out Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The songs lovingly and hilariously skewer the tropes of the genre, and the performers render them with precision. Arntson delivers an expert rendition of the sequined-showman archetype, while Littleton shows off impressive vocal mimicry, evoking songstresses from Dolly Parton to Tammy Wynette. Scenic designer Kevin Depinet has done a crackerjack job of transforming the Royal George’s cabaret space into a dingy, yellowed country & western dive reminiscent of the real-life Station Inn, the show’s Nashville home. The show goes off the rails a bit in an overreaching supernatural sequence near the end, but for the most part it milks hearty laughs from solid satire and committed character work."
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Kris Vire


Chicago Theatre Addict - Highly Recommended

"... What makes this 90-minute show such a great time? I think it’s a combination of many things. First you have the premise: Doyle, a once popular C&W singer/songwriter has come back from a 30-year hiatus involving alcoholism, four wives and some sort of vague mental breakdown. Tonight is Doyle’s big Nashville return, and he’s brought along with him his famous other half, Debbie. Well, she’s not the Debbie we’re used to, because she’s the “new” Debbie, a single mom whom Doyle discovered only six weeks ago singing her heart out at the VFW hall. Eager for her big break, “Debbie” has learned all the songs and performs them with utmost conviction, while desperately trying to keep the show afloat as Doyle falls apart onstage."
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Bob Bullen


Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...You get so caught up in their singin’ and jokin’ that it’s hard to remember which song was which and who did what. But there is a kind of story behind them. Seems Doyle has had a couple of Debbies before this one, and he picked up the latest in a bar. Well, that’s not exactly how he told it but I took his meaning. He’s a sort of washed up country singer, except that you have to be successful before you can be washed up and that part of Doyle’s history isn’t clear. Anyway, they’re together now, re-livin’ his old hits and spreadin’ joy."
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Lawrence B. Johnson


Stage and Cinema - Highly Recommended

"...The revue is a whoop-and-holler show, the opening night audience reacting with nonstop boisterous approval. Even allowing for the natural good will of an opening night crowd (and the free bar service), the enthusiasm sounded genuine. This is the ultimate audience show and should be irresistible, even for those who otherwise find country music very much resistible."
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Dan Zeff


Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...Throughout, the cast skewers the ultra-conservative, religion-based politics of the Bible Belt (“From the pious in the heartland/to the heathens on the coasts/God spends his riches evenly/to those he loves the most”). Creationists, it is safe to say, might not see some of the humor in The Doyle and Debbie Show. The rest of us should belly up to the bar for an evening of twisted country-fried fun."

Catey Sullivan


ChicagoCritic - Recommended

"...This 90 minute one-act is well-crafted, polished and well-sung without losing any of the biting parody. This is one of the funniest shows to make it to Chicago in years. Bruce Arnston and Jenny Littleton work hard as they succeed in giving us enough laughs to make us both love and admire the strangely simple world of old-time country music and rural Southern stereotypes. This is will be a major hit in Chicago once the word gets around on how funny and clever the show is. See how a show can both lampoon and pay homage to an American musical style while getting belly-laughs along the way. This is a most entertaining show."
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Tom Williams


Chicago Now - Highly Recommended

"...Creator Bruce Arntson birthed a big bouncing bundle of joy. Arntson, who also plays Doyle, sets up the perfect staged showbiz comeback. The farce perpetuates country stereotypes but doesn’t exploit them. It’s the difference between teasing a best friend and poking fun of a stranger. Country music is Arntson’s BFF and he handles it with playful fun. The songs are introduced fairly ordinary. But then the lyrics hit a chord that makes me gasp. ‘I ain’t no homo (but man you sure look good to me)’ and ‘I’ll think of her g-spot as your g-spot.’ It’s crass-tastic! Most of the captivation is Arntson and Jenny Littleton’s (Debbie) croon-ability."
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Katy Walsh


Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...This dazzling 90 minutes of parody on the Country Western duos is amazingly funny and the original songs truly sound like they could have been performed somewhere along the way. While they are spoofing the performers of this genre, they do so in a loving way so that even the C & W fans cannot help but enjoy the music and the comedy and I know that everyone will enjoy the “yodel” sequence and how Debbie reacts as Doyle bring out the best in her."
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Alan Bresloff


   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the opening night judges of The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee. The entire production is then eligible for nomination for awards at the end of the season.


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