DEBBIE DOES CHICAGO: The teen-pop revival failed to float the comeback efforts of Deborah "Donít Call Me Debbie, Dammit" Gibson, despite her opening slot on an íN Sync tour. On the other hand, sheís landed on her feet in musical theater (where revivals are all the rage), doing everything from Les Mis on Broadway to Grease in Londonís West End to tours of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Debbieís ó sorry, Deborahís latest stage move? A stint as Velma Kelly, the "dancing jailbird with an ear for headlines and an eye for talent," in a national tour of Chicago thatís just been extended an extra week at the North Shore Music Theatre, in Beverly, where it will now play October 29 through November 17. Will she sing "Shake Your Love?" Only in your dreams, pal. Tickets are $24 to $62; call (978) 232-7200.
HOT NUTS: It seems a little silly to be worrying about The Nutcracker when the asphalt is hot enough to reduce Sugar Plum to a sticky smudge quicker than you can say, "dancing rats." But while you were sweating out an Independence Day just a few ice cubes short of a heat stroke, Boston Ballet was getting a jump on the Christmas seasonís hottest ticket; its annual holiday run went on sale on the last official day of spring. Since this is the first Nutcracker to be helmed by incoming BB artistic director Mikko Nissinen, expect a few new twists on the old fave. And consider that a couple of tickets vigorously waved at oneís temple might make a nice fan substitute in August. Boston Balletís The Nutcracker runs November 29 through December 30 at the Wang Theatre, and tickets are $15 to $70; call (800) 447-7400.
Greetings from Planet Girl
"Humor is different for women," posits Margaret Brady, one sixth of the all-female comedic performance troupe Planet Girl, which opens the newest version of its Greetings from Planet Girl next Friday at the Charlestown Working Theater, "for reasons that have to do with the difference between men and women in general. Male art tends to be linear, projectile, and quickly climactic. Itís structured in a way that recapitulates the male sex act. Womenís art is more cyclical, with a different build, shape, and arc."
Brazenly going where no man has gone before, and undaunted by constricting conceptions of femininity and taste, Planet Girl has been exploring both odd and ordinary aspects of the earthwoman experience since 1996. In its latest operation, one of the main objectives is to probe and explode the inner and outer limits facing humankindís female half. The troupe brings together a number of road-tested talents into a single evening of monologues, sketches, and songs: Cyndi Freeman, whose one-woman shows Greetings from Hollywood and I Kissed Dash Riprock have won acclaim here at home and as far away as the Edinbugh Fringe Festival; Brady joined by Dorothy Dwyer and Lucy Holstedt, her partners in the long-running Mrs. Potatohead Show sketch troupe; and Planet Girlís two newest emissaries, Julie Perkins and Jan Davidson, veterans of both theater and stand-up who teamed in the recent two-woman show Donít Fight, Youíre Both Pretty.
"When youíre a woman in theater or in comedy, you know what it feels like to be marginalized, pigeonholed, and otherwise limited," Brady points out. In response to those limitations, she and five like-minded members of the fairer sex formed Women on the Edge, a freewheeling womenís performance group that lived in a plywood shack in Wellfleet and commuted to Provincetown. The project lasted from 1990 to 1995. "We did anything and everything. It could be short, long, funny, stupid, bizarre, inexplicable, musical. It didnít matter. Women on the Edge was all about doing whatever we wanted."
After Women on the Edge expired, Freeman stepped in and spirited fellow-minded colleagues off to Planet Girl, where the basic sensibilities of the predecessor group survived but morphed into a form that Brady describes as "more polished, more attuned to pop culture, and girlier." On Planet Girl, of course, girly is good. "But itís not all about relationships with men or menstruation and other perils of being a girl," Brady insists. Their femininity is expressed as much in form as in content. In her own comic work, Brady says, "the pieces usually roll more gently, and the big laugh is more like a female orgasm."
Brady is loath to divulge the particulars of Greetings from Planet Girl version three, but she does offer a few teasing tidbits. In her own monologue, sheíll be back as Paloma, a wacky slave to fashion who always appears in outrageous attire. "Itís the same Paloma, but this time sheís the Paloma of death," she explains, adding that "life is deadly serious but not to be taken seriously." Perkins and Davidson will perform a sketch about "what happened after the dish ran away with the spoon." And Freeman will hold forth about how Hollywood "sucks the funny out of you" and otherwise vampirizes women.
Past that, who knows what might materialize when Planet Girl hits Planet Earth? If past is precedent, however, itís sure to be an out-of-this-world mix of the serious and the silly. "If you accept the dichotomy between the two, you surrender your power," says Brady. "We donít have to fear what we can ridicule."
Greetings from Planet Girl opens next Friday, July 19, and plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 and Sundays at 7 through July 28 at the Charlestown Working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill Street. Tickets are $15; call (781) 648-5963.
BY ANNE MARIE DONAHUE