Dirty Dorothy can sing and act? Well, yes! Those who know Jessica Dressler only from her role as a drag show host at area bars like Missie B’s and Hamburger Mary’s will be delighted to see her show off her acting chops in a new theatrical production.
Dressler is one of three co-producers of the recently returned Late Night Theatre, which has a history of gender-bending satirical stage acts, along with Ron Megee and Chadwick Brooks. Next in Late Night’s line of plays will be The Dykes of Hazzard, on the new stage at Missie B’s.
Dressler co-wrote the show, which will run July 5-28, with Megee and is starring in four roles (Roscoe, Rita, Cooter and Enos).
“I actually got the coveted swing character,” she said. “Every play I’ve ever been in, that is my ultimate favorite, to be this wooden character.”
The production will have an all-female cast. Daisy Dyke will be played by Ashley Otis; Mike Dyke (based on the TV character Bo) by Stasha Case; Luke Dyke played by Katie Gilchrist; Aunt Jessie (based on Uncle Jessie) played by Annie Cherry; Boss Hogg played by Shannon Michalski; and Dressler playing her four roles.
Dressler says that even the infamous Dodge Charger on the TV show named the General Lee will make several appearances in one form or another.
Of her Late Night co-producers, Dressler said, “The three of us were brainstorming several different ideas and then all of a sudden I said ‘What about Dukes of Hazzard?’ and Ron said, ‘Dykes of Hazzard.’ So we were like, ‘Perfect!’”
The show is being produced by Late Night Theatre through Dressler’s company, One Trunk Productions. “So it’s basically One Trunk Productions d.b.a. Late Night Theatre,” Dressler said.
“For me, it’s been really exciting because I got to co-write it with Ron and basically work with my parody mentor,” she said.
She said the production, with one intermission, will be loaded with musical numbers and comedy.
“This show was so stupid, and the car chases were so stupid. It’s going to be really funny,” Dressler said. “I think it’s going to be exactly like people remember. The only thing you remember from the original show is General Lee, hick people almost losing their farm, and bad guys chasing them around and always ending up in the pond. And that’s what you’re going to get.”
Dressler is the entertainment director at Missie B’s, where the new show will be staged. Golden! Girls Gone Wild!!! was the first show from the latest incarnation of Late Night Theatre, and for those performances in March, the bar installed pocket doors to separate the stage from the rest of the establishment. Subsequent acts that have charged admission have also used the stage.
“One thing I want to brag on Missie B’s about is that they’re not charging people for that space,” Dressler said. “Just like Michael Burnes is always creating opportunities for people. … They offer this space for free and also give the DJ. So the only thing people would have to pay for if they want is a camera person or spotlight. You feel like you’re in a New York black box. They [Missie B’s> just request that they have an intermission for every show so people can spend money on drinks.”
Dressler has taken her Dirty Dorothy show on the road in Wichita, Omaha, Springfield and Columbia through One Trunk Productions. She brings an entourage of other entertainers from Kansas City.
She explained the name of her production company: “When I was at bar Natasha and did a cabaret show … it was called The One Trunk Show. It was a big trunk with all the props, and people came out of the trunk. And so when I inherited the entertainment at Missie B’s … I just thought of that name.”
With a former business partner, Tim Colley, she created a line of Dirty Dorothy greeting cards, glass mugs, tote bags, T-shirts and other merchandise, as well as a discount card for restaurants and shops called Friends of Dorothy. They dissolved the Friends of Dorothy franchise when Colley opened his new store in River Market called Hungry Monkey. “So now I get to do all the merchandise and I’m just going to run it through One Trunk Productions,” she said.
Dressler said she would be working with the Exposure Talent agency in Kansas City to focus on voiceover and commercial work.
Dressler has a great stage voice, but said she’s never had much vocal training, with the exception of about six months of lessons when she was 18. She said she got into singing because she liked musicals.
After The Dykes of Hazzard, she plans on doing more Late Night Theatre shows at Missie B’s, including bringing back Golden Girls in September, a holiday performance of A Very Late Night Christmas, and more in 2015. She also does the “Friends of Dirty Dorothy” show at Hamburger Mary’s. Based on the success of the 2014 “Kansas City Strips” show they held for AIDS Walk, she said she and Brooks and Ryan Gove plan to bring it back next year even bigger and better, in conjunction with Team Missie B’s.
“I’ve always got nine irons in the fire,” she said with a laugh.
Dressler grew up in Kansas City, Kan., and moved to Santa Monica, Calif., for several years and worked for Warner Brother Studios before moving back to Kansas City. She’s 36 years old and lives in a Plaza-area apartment with her partner, Nadine.
“Thirty-six going on 19,” she said with a laugh. “Old enough to know better, but young enough to still do it.”
The Dykes of Hazzard runs July 5-28. Tickets are $18, with VIP ticket packages available for $10 extra. Tickets can be purchased at: Dykes of Hazzard