Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson
Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall
November 28 - December 20, 2003
Directed by Michael Jones
rambunctious musical comedy is based on a bit of local off color - the
1973 closing of one of Texas' most famous pleasure palaces known euphemistically
as Edna's Ranch Boarding House, which was also known for generations as the
fabled Chicken Ranch of La Grange, Texas.
(The Chicken Ranch
moniker hails from the Depression days when the establishment accepted poultry
as payment when needy customers didn't have the necessary cash.)
In its early days, its
founder set strict standards of decorum, and as the play begins, its current
"landlady", Miss Mona, runs it as a kind of community service. Her ladies get
group rates on Blue Cross, wear long dresses every evening, service the local
college football team (thanks to a generous alumni gift), and seem to get along
fine with the local sheriff, businessmen and politicians.
However, the house is
threatened when a crusading television personality, Melvin P. Thorpe, turns his
"Watchdog Spotlight" on Miss Mona's operation. Intent on reform and a whole lot
of self-serving publicity, Melvin's crusade doesn't stop until he pressures the
Governor to have the local sheriff shut it down.
The country and western tinged score includes such songs as "Hard Candy
Christmas," "Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin', "The Bus From Amarillo," and "Good Old
Girl". The band for the show includes local musicians Elyse Angelo, Sheryl
Waters, Mike Stutzman, Darrell Raley, Bart Varner and Jason Hunt.
Although "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" may best be remembered as a 1982
film starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, it was originally produced onstage
by the famed Actors Studio in New York. Its Off Broadway production garnered
three Drama Desk Awards before its successful run on Broadway. The idea came
from a magazine article about the closing of the Chicken Ranch, written by Larry
L. King, which caught the eye of actor/director Peter Masterson. The two Texans
developed the story into a musical with the aid of fellow Texan Carol Hall who
created the music. More recently, Ann-Margret starred as Miss Mona in a national
tour that opened in 2001. Carpenter Square is staging the musical as part of its
20th Anniversary Season celebration.
"Carpenter Square first produced 'The Best Little Whorehouse' in 1988 as part of
our 4th season, and audiences had a great time. It was a big hit for the
theatre," explains Carpenter artistic director Rhonda Clark. "It's a show that
we've been wanting to do again for so long, and our 20th anniversary seems like
the perfect time."