Dallas — Theatre Three hosts the world premiere of The Kountry Girls, a musical assembled by Sonny Franks, Ken Murchison and Andrew Clendenen out of familiar melodies and country clichés. Unfortunately, that’s a one-two punch that the talented cast, directed by Kerry Cole, has a hard time overcoming.
Mama’s Kountry Café is the Disneyfied version of a small town diner. The blank expression of the actress posing as a waitress taking orders during preshow when I asked for chicken fried steak and sweet tea tells just how deep the illusion goes.
Actually, the daughter waitressing duo, Dee Dee (Alexis Nabors) and May (Kelly Silverthorn) is one of the parts of the show that works, though their effort is squandered on material so artlessly broad as to border on offensive. With clear voices and an aw-shucks smile they sing/explain everything to the city feller customer (Alan Pollard) who also conveniently adds percussion from his seat in the booth. Their mama, Katy (Christia Voss), is the quintessential hard-working single mom and their daddy, Butch (Sonny Franks) is an always-on-the-road womanizing, alcoholic, country music singer.
But it’s okay that he cheated on her and left them because he’s just a rascal.
The first act washes by in a similarly shallow theatrical waste like a hose left on a driveway during a drought. Never has Theatre Three’s arena staging been more helpful for checking with other audience members to see if they’re similarly confused as to how so much human drama could be shrugged off.
It’s hard to judge which smiles were more strained: the cast while whitewashing the white world problems or the dutiful subscriber audience looking like grandparents who’ve been dragged to a middle school awards assembly.
The only subject given much dramatic traction is the lost first love of Katy’s, Clinton (Gregory Lush). But it will take until the second act to hear from him. That’s also when the daughters, in stirring harmony, finally get a chance to ponder leaving their home. The cast as a whole really shines in the closing number, too. It’s a pity some patrons won’t make it past intermission.
That’s just how long it takes to smell what the Kountry Café is cooking.