The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


‘Whorehouse’ honeys bring heat to the theatre

Who would have guessed that underneath all that whoring and, er, sampling, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” is really a sweet little story about sisterhood?

“Best Little Whorehouse,” running through Oct. 21 at the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, introduces us to The Chicken Ranch, where Miss Mona Stangley and her girls know how to show men (and us) a real good time.

Nobody, including tourists, politicians and the Aggie football team, has any qualms with what goes on down there in Gilbert, Texas.

Enter one Melvin P. Thorpe, a do-gooder TV reporter from Houston, who just has to stick his big hair into everything.

As expected with a title as taboo as its own, “Best Little Whorehouse” lampoons social standards.

The musical addresses the issues of two-faced politicians, the downside of the emerging role of television (the musical came out in 1978) and the legality of whorehouses.

Audiences are won over by the outrageous lyrics, the expletive-filled lines, and the sexual simulated visuals – essentially the type of lewd, coarse activity our prim and proper nation gets its knickers in a bun over.

Despite the illegality of such a business, you will be rooting for the Chicken Ranch to stay open. Never mind the fact that “Best Little Whorehouse” does not explore the trashy, emotionally scarring side of being one of the girls. Miss Mona runs one tight, respected establishment.

Of course, it helps to have a production as electrifyingly good as the one put on by CTD. The entire cast appears to be having a blast working with such over-the-top material, and its energy is infectious.

Succeeding musical numbers surpass previous productions in visual entertainment and intensity.

The lyrics are hilarious by themselves (see “stop that copulation” in “Texas Has A Whorehouse In It”), but the choreography and props add a whole other level to the madness (see the other cheerleaders in “Angelette March”).

A couple of songs seem to appear from nowhere. Characters are not given enough face time to have developed a bond with the audience, yet, but they suddenly break into heart-felt solos. Luckily, you will lose yourself in the power of the actors’ rich voices.

Ted Wold steals scenes in the showiest role, that of the sniveling, no-good Thorpe. He prances like a self-righteous poodle and preaches with inflection-filled gusto.

Megan Elizabeth Kelly steals the other scenes as Shy, a new addition to The Chicken Ranch. Shy may not be the brightest or the prettiest girl of Miss Mona’s bunch, but Kelly’s dry delivery will make you root for her.

Other notable performers include Jenny Thurman as the tough but loving Miss Mona and Charles Ryan Roach as sweet, bewildered Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd.

Both have wonderfully strong voices and lovely chemistry together. They share the production’s most picturesque and bittersweet moment.

It is a wonder that Roach does not stumble through any of his rapid-fire delivery. Natalie King and Sara Shelby-Martin shine in their respective solos.

The Contemporary Theatre of Dallas, which was previously a church, has a somewhat cramped seating arrangement, but it works for this production. You feel like you are a part of the cozy environment of Miss Mona’s Chicken Ranch.

For all of its hilarity, “Best Little Whorehouse” is a bit uneven.

The musical keeps changing its focus and characters have storylines that are conveniently interjected at any old time.

You find yourself rooting for certain characters, partly because the play wants you to and partly because the actors are so strong. But then those characters disappear after their moments, never to be heard from again.

In an effort to cram in as many spectacles, social jabs and other plotlines, Miss Mona’s girls get the biggest shaft.

Most of the actresses are recognizable local talents and they have created individuals in what essentially adds up to a glorified chorus role. Their beautiful musical numbers bring stability to the production. The ballads are an ode to sisterhood.

Now, this serious stuff is not supposed to scare you off. If you’re planning on having a fun, rowdy, dorsal nudity filled, drinking good time, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas will most definitely deliver the goods.

But in this one-night stand, you may unexpectedly find yourself getting emotionally involved.

Christy Vutam is a sophomore Journalism major. She can be reached for further comment or question at [email protected].

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