De De DeVille, the stage name of one of Kansas City’s best-known drag performers, has performed male and female roles on many of the city’s stages but has figured out what many actors do: It’s better to produce your own work than sitting around waiting for the phone to ring.
DeVille (aka David Krom) is assuming the dual title of producer and star of Charles Busch’s “Die Mommie Die,” a satire that recalls 1960s horror/melodramas and big-screen soap operas starring aging screen queens. DeVille plays ex-pop singer Angela Andrews, who finds herself trapped in a dreary marriage with a film producer and his two children. There’s a murder, an acid trip and startling revelations.
Busch, an actor and playwright known for drag roles, starred in the 2003 film and later performed the stage version in Los Angeles and New York.
“I had never seen it on stage,” DeVille said. “I fell in love with it based purely on the film. I decided to do it and went ahead and got the rights before I had even read the play. Then it showed up and I sat down and read it. And there was initially a feeling of: What have I gotten myself into?”
DeVille tapped Bill Pelletier to direct. His supporting cast includes Jeff Smith, Alisa Lynn, Stasha Case, J. Will Fritz and Reed Uthe.
DeVille is producing his show at Musical Theater Heritage (previously the Off Center Theatre) at Crown Center.
“My first thought was I wanted a venue that did have liquor sales,” he said. “I want a venue where people knew where it was and I wanted a venue with nice, easy, secure parking … It’s a beautiful space and the stage is about right for how I envisioned staging the show.”
In addition to starring and producing, DeVille is designing the sets and costumes.
“I find it to be very smart humor and there’s a lot of nuance to it, I think,” DeVille said. “Some of the raunchier stuff is just written in as throw-away lines. It’s the more subtle stuff that I think is more amusing. And you can tell he really, really loves old films.”
DeVille has appeared at the New Theatre and the Barn Players, among other theater companies, and is a veteran of numerous Late Night Theatre shows. Last year he produced his own script, “First Lady,” a political satire that imagined the fallout if the president’s wife were a drag queen. The show was performed at the Fishtank.
DeVille has performed under both his stage name and his real name, but has decided that he will work exclusively as De De DeVille.
“Last year I did ‘Noises Off’ at the Barn Players and played a male role under my given name and it just confused people,” DeVille said.
“Die Mommie Die” runs through Oct. 17 at Musical Theater Heritage at Crown Center. For information, go to MTHKC.com.