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Diva drag takes on politics of White House in ‘First Lady?’

Playwright David Krom a.k.a. De De DeVille undertakes the starring role in his self penned new play, “First Lady?” at the Fishtank Performance Studio.  Directed by Phil Kinen, “First Lady?” features Victoria Hoffman and Jeff Smith.
Playwright David Krom a.k.a. De De DeVille undertakes the starring role in his self penned new play, “First Lady?” at the Fishtank Performance Studio. Directed by Phil Kinen, “First Lady?” features Victoria Hoffman and Jeff Smith.
Ann Brown and Courtesy of The Fishtank Performance Studio

A century ago no one expected a Black man to ever win the Presidency, but as times continue to evolve, diversity takes the nation to unexplored crests and push fresh thinking. So, in the not-so-distant future perhaps a gay couple would occupy the White House as conceived in a new play from Kansas City playwright David Krom, entitled, “First Lady?” to premiere next week, on May 2 at the Fishtank Performance Studio.

Krom, known also by his other persona, De De DeVille, a local drag performer penned the new piece, currently designs and sews the costumes, designs/builds the sets, and performs in the play that Phil Kinen directs.

The play explores a future time when, through a series of both planned and unplanned events, a gay couple to the oval office as President and First Lady. Half of that couple is also a drag queen performer and takes on the role of a lifetime: the first lady in the White House, with Krom/DeVille portraying as Deirdre Russell, the first lady.

"Imagine how a small-town boy from Kansas ended up in the White House in four-inch spiked heels, DeVille, who plays the title character, said. "Basically we're tackling the fictionalized concept of how a gay couple ended up accidentally becoming the president and first lady.

"The political rise of my husband is a big part of the story," DeVille said. "We ultimately get on the ticket as vice president, and we win, but then the president has a heart attack and dies. So suddenly, I find myself First Lady of this great land."

Krom said he was able to bring the project to life in part through a Rocket Grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation with sponsorship from the Charlotte Street Foundation and The Spencer Museum of Art.

"There is a lot of assistance out there for budding artists if you just do some research," Krom said. "There is funding and facilities, like the Fishtank, available to nurture new and experimental work, so if you have an idea, go after it."

DeVille is an experienced drag performer and has been seen in multiple theatrical productions (including Late Night Theatre) throughout Kansas City. DeVille's most recent performance was as Mrs. Chauvenet in “Harvey” at the New Theatre Restaurant, where DeVille shared the stage with television actor Charles Shaughnessy, most notably known from The Nanny TV series.

"De De DeVille delivers a smart glimpse into an alternate White House and a First Lady who shaves her face as well as her legs," Shaughnessy said. "With twists and turns, this ‘fireside chat' delivers an intriguing look at what could be a White House of the near future."

The show is directed by Phil Kinen and stars De De DeVille as Deirdre Russell, the first lady, Victoria Hoffman as Christine Chambers, the reporter given the exclusive to the story, and Jeff Smith as Blair, the first lady's secret service agent.

"First Lady?" will run weekends May 2-25 at the Fishtank Performance Studio, 1715 Wyandotte St., Kansas City, Mo. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 5 p.m.

The Fishtank Performance Studio develops new work from concept to concert by providing a low-risk, low-cost environment that nurtures the development of new works and inspires theatrical entrepreneurship. More information and tickets are available at www.fishtanktheater.com or by calling the theater, 816-809-7110.