-Oregon Music News, May 23rd, 2019
Whiskey Dixie and the Big Wet Country is a Sexed-up Musical—and so Much More
Characters discuss everything from premature ejaculation to the art of properly stimulating the clitoris.
By Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Published September 26 Willamette Week
Halfway through the musical sex comedy Whiskey Dixie and the Big Wet Country, there's a fascinating moment that's neither musical nor comedic. Country singer Whiskey (Amanda Richards) is on the verge of having sex with bar owner Dick (John Bruner) when she discovers he has herpes—and he wasn't planning to tell her.
Whiskey isn't worried about getting infected—she has herpes, too. Yet she's enraged both by Dick's lie by omission and his lame excuses for it, and her fury transforms a formerly goofy scene into a disquieting meditation on gaslighting and consent.
The evolution of that moment mirrors the transformation of the play itself. Whiskey Dixieinitially seems little more than a string of gleefully crude jokes. But thanks to a series of brash narrative left turns, the show becomes an excitingly volatile chronicle of the characters' sex lives.
At the center of this narrative is Whiskey, who's searching for her musical big break and a satisfactory sexual partner. Both goals seem imperiled when she loses her driver's license after a cop catches her masturbating behind the wheel, using a microphone for a dildo.
Yet the incident makes Whiskey an internet celebrity. That raises the question: Will she capitalize on her own humiliation if it means jump-starting her career?
If you see Whiskey Dixie to discover the answer, you're going for the wrong reason. Whiskey may be the heroine of the play—which was written by Richards and directed by Serah Pope—but it's an ensemble saga at heart.
Most of the story is confined to Dick's bar, the Dixie Tavern. The grungy hangout plastered with ads for Camel cigarettes and Miller High Life is where a group of friends discuss everything from premature ejaculation to the art of properly stimulating the clitoris.
A few too many of these scenes demand that we be delighted by the rather obvious revelation that, yes, sex is funny. But Richards' songs—which have titles like "Save a Cow, Eat a Cowgirl" and "Buttfuck This Night"—are consistently uproarious, and the play is packed with spectacular sight gags, the most memorable of which happens during a sex scene involving Whiskey, Dick and a well-used cowboy hat.
Whiskey Dixie also has disarming emotional heft. Dick may seem a manipulative jerk, but one of the play's highlights features him sitting alone in a chair singing "Gets Me High," a ballad of loneliness and yearning that poignantly reveals a desire for genuine emotional connection.
That somber scene sets the stage for a series of second-act twists, which jerk the narrative away from Whiskey's career and into the midst of a disarmingly bizarre chain of events involving sexual assault and a gun. Some might find Whiskey Dixie's metamorphosis disorienting. Yet despite occasionally sacrificing narrative coherence, the play achieves something extraordinary—it becomes a worthy work of post-#MeToo theater that celebrates sexual pleasure while attacking white male privilege in potent and unexpected ways.
The play's comedic tone may seemingly give you permission to chuckle when Dick sings an appalling male anthem titled "Grab Life by the Pussy," but we also see him pay a serious price for his offensive words a few scenes later.
Whiskey Dixie isn't an unqualified triumph. But it is funny, radical and powerful. Like Whiskey, it seizes the wheel and the microphone heedlessly, declaring that if you get busted, that's the price you pay for audacity and truth.
SEE IT: Whiskey Dixie and the Big Wet Country is at Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Ave., imagotheatre.com. 7:30 pm Thursday-Friday, 2 and 7:30 pm Saturday, through Oct. 13. $30, VIP table $500.
Jest Lookin’ Fer Lovin’
By Dennis Sparks, September 22, 2018 All Things Performing Arts
This original, “raunchy outlaw-country musical,” is written by and starring singer/actor, Amanda Richards and directed by Serah Pope, with music direction by Steve Moore and choreography by Jaime Langton. It is playing at the Imago space, 17 SE 8th Ave. (off (Burnside) through October 13th. Parking is a challenge in this area so plan your time accordingly. For more information, go to their site at www.whiskeydixiemusical.com
Dreams may come, and dreams may go…but a hard man is always good to find. That might be the mantra of this show. It is full of plays on words, double meanings, mime, some Rap, even a nod to the MeToo Movement and a whole lotta country music. But, to be clear, here is their take on the play: “This is Rated R for graphic language, sexual content, graphic subject matter, mention of sexual assault, guns, violence, tasteless jokes, politically incorrect stuff and some other messed up shit.” If you are still reading this at this point, “play on…and cursed be the coward that cries—enough!”
We all have dreams, many of which will probably go unrealized, or be modified to such an extent that we hardly recognize them anymore. But dreaming is a part of our nature and so we trudge onward, perhaps looking for Mr. Goodbar in all the wrong places. Whiskey’s (Richards) dream is to be a big-time Country singer (“Country singers are for indoors, Western singers are for outdoors”) in Nashville and be on the Conan O’Brien show. The latter part of that dream is realized as she gets an invite from him.
But that means leaving her friends, who are like family, and her favorite, small-town bar. They may not be the cream of the crop of society but they are her buds. There is the braggart and womanizer, Jerry (Tyler Shilstone), who is the King of Tit Hill and lets everyone know it. He even takes a greenhorn lover, Paul (Mac Kimmerle), under his wing to teach him some of the finer points in satisfying a lady. Roger (Dennis Fitzpatrick) is essentially the town drunk, who says and does all the wrong things.
Other folks of this watering hole are Barbara (Anita Clark) who is always up for a good time. Then there is the newbie in town, Gladys (Diana Marie), who will soon be introduced to the rules of the game. Also, there is the indispensable, Trish (Brandie Sylfae), the bartender, who quietly sees it all but, like a simmering volcano, does have her erupting point. And, finally, near the winding down of her departure, the owner’s grandson, Dick (John Brunner), becomes the new owner and, with his mother, Mary Ann (Michele Brouse-Peoples) may upset the familiar surroundings of this haven for societal misfits. Will Whiskey follow her dreams, or stay and face some of the hard facts of life? Come see it for yourself, if you dare?!
Richards has done an outstanding job of wearing several hats (lead actor, writer and producer) of this show, so it must be a labor of love and it shows. The songs, although R-rated, are musically quite engaging and very well performed by a talented cast. (I can’t tell you the names of any of them because there was no listing in the program.) Both Richards and Brunner take honors as the most accomplished of the bunch of singers. My personal favorite, though, in acting, was Sylfae, as the bartender, and her explosive monologue at the end was terrifically delivered. Pope has done a good job of casting the show and keeping the action moving on a very clever set. And Langton (a fine performer and actor in her own right) has captured the dancing of the country bar to a tee. Also, Moore, with his band (Chad McAllister, Christine McAllister and Joey Harmon) gave an authenticity to the setting and never overpowered the actors.
It is curious, though, although Richards is targeting a specific audience by making it raunchy (the enthusiastic crowd proved that with their cheers and applause), underneath it all, there is a very good and human story that, even without all the blatant, sexual overtones, was quite compelling. This is obviously not a play for everyone but I thought the whole production deserves a thumbs up.
On a personal note, though, I was somewhat handicapped by being in the last row—H, and, although it is tiered seating for the audience, G & H rows are on the same level. And I was sitting behind a large man wearing a hat and the spotlight was directly behind me, so anything that took place center stage, I had to crane my neck to one side or the other to see the action. When you have a reviewer, its usually customary to assign them a favorable seat for the best view of the show. As I said, a personal note and advice as to not let them seat you in Row H.
I recommend this show. If you do see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.
#WCW: 5 Questions with Amanda Richards
By Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov Women Crush Music Blog
Our #WCW today is Grammy-nominated songwriter Amanda Richards who has not only written seven albums and two EPS to date, but has also just written and will be starring in her very first full length musical "Whiskey Dixie and The Big Wet Country". The musical follows Whiskey Williams (played by Richards herself), a hot-mess country singer beating off the demons of her past, through a rough weekend of poor decisions and hangovers, and all the while tackling sexual taboos & the American patriarchy. We sat down with Amanda to learn more about how she came up with it all!
What inspired you to write Whiskey Dixie?
For years I have hoarded a collection of raunchy country songs that I would break out occasionally at late night gigs. Many of the songs were written when I used to open burlesque shows under the alter-ego “DeManda.” Last year, I went on a writing retreat with a few good friends and thought about how fun it would be to use some of those songs as inspiration to write a stage play.
How long did it take you to put the musical together? Were the songs written first or the script?
Some of the songs I have had for a few years. It took me 4 days to write the first version of the script. I have since written 21 drafts of the script. By the time the play opens, it will have been nearly 10 months since pen was first brought to page, so to speak.
You touch on some pretty taboo topics - why do you think it’s important to talk about them (ex: women’s sexuality)?
I didn’t necessarily start out with the intention of writing a provocative or hot topic play. I was separating from my partner of 7 years and I really just needed to laugh about something.
As much as I hate to admit it, I tend to draw a lot from personal experience; and my perspective and sense of humor are a bit taboo. More than anything, I just tried to approach the subject matter with as much truth and honesty as possible, and that in and of itself makes it funny and uncomfortable because most people don’t talk about this stuff casually.
Did you know you wanted to work with a woman director on this show or did it just happen? Talk about the experience of working with a mostly female cast and crew!
Serah Pope was one of the friends who joined me on the writing retreat in November. After the first official table read, she kind of claimed it. I had 4 other people offer to direct it right away but I felt it would be better to have a friend and another woman involved to maintain the playful tone of the script. I feel like men’s sexuality has a tendency to bulldoze female sexuality and this story, as uncomfortable as it is to tell, needed to be rooted in female perspective.
Do you think you’ll go back to writing albums or is another musical in the works? What’s next for Amanda Richards and Whiskey Dixie?
I produced my first full length album when I was 21 back in 2004. I thought that after I did one, I would get it out of my system and settle down into a “real job.” Seven albums, 2 EPS and a full-length musical later, I know that this is something I’m going to be doing for the rest of my life.
Music was always number one for me but it never felt complete. The making of this musical has allowed me full expression of my gifts as a writer, singer, actress, producer and artist. So far I have enjoyed every aspect of production l and I’m already thinking about writing the next one. I honestly feel as though I have finally found my true calling as a playwright and performer. I hope the audience feels the same way.
We're absolutely loving the track list which includes songs titled "The STD Song" and "Poor Personal Hygiene." Not only are they great songs musically but they are hilarious! Portland, don't miss out on your chance to see Amanda and the rest of the cast in Whiskey Dixie and The Big Wet Country at The Imago Theater from September 21st through October 13th. For more information about the musical or to buy tickets you click here.
Interview by: Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov
Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov is the founder and executive directress of #WomenCrush Music. When she’s not leading the #WCM team, she’s coaching artists on how to live their best lives via her business DIA Music Coaching and travelling the world with her hubby and chiweenie pup. She currently resides in NYC and you can follow her at @mrsbossladywcm.