The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
When performing a musical named "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," there are certain expectations that need to be met. Signature Theatre’s production of "Whorehouse" surpasses these expectations and delivers a sexy fun performance starring a talented cast.
"Whorehouse" is based on the true story of the controversy surrounding the end of a hundred year-old "business" in La Grange, Texas. But the play is about much more than prostitution. Characters, like real people, are more than what they do behind closed doors and how others perceive them.
There are stories behind almost every person on stage, and in the small town of Gilbert, Texas in which the play is set, the individual threads of each of these lives often come together in interesting ways.
The Chicken Ranch is owned by Miss Mona Stangley (Sherri L. Edelen), who is assisted by Jewel (Nova Y. Payton). Both Edelen and Payton shine in their respective roles as powerful dynamic women whose characters walk the delicate line of being compassionate yet authoritative, sultry and dignified.
One of the most moving scenes in the play takes place during the performance of "Girl, You’re a Woman" when Miss Mona encourages Shy, a young abused country girl and the newest edition to the Chicken Ranch, to be less timid and more assertive.
By the end of the scene, Shy transforms from a meek young girl into a confident woman. Although Shy keeps her nickname, it represents more who she was rather than the woman she has become.
While the residents of Gilbert have become quite accustomed to, or at least tolerable of the Chicken Ranch, which is located just outside the city limits, the simmering pot begins boiling over when the ranch attracts national attention via the actions of media personality Melvin P. Thorpe (Christopher Thorpe).
The overarching theme of this play is the power held by those in the media, and Melvin Thorpe represents the abuse of that power. His unwarranted tendency to consider himself the watchdog of justice and morality stirs up the entire state and brings unwanted attention to the Chicken Ranch.
As tension mounts, the audience learns more about the town’s residents. Among them is Doatsy Mae (Tracy Lynn Olivera), the waitress at a local diner. Olivera’s emotional performance as Doatsy Mae during the character’s self-titled song is a welcome surprise that will make the character remain on the audience’s mind long after the song ends.
Things come to a head when Thorpe and his gang invade the Chicken Ranch and figuratively and literally invade the privacy of everyone involved.
What follows is a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of how politicians "manage" controversy. Senator Wingwhoah (Matt Conner) feigns innocence and tries to shift the blame all while his pants are threatening to fall to his ankles.
Meanwhile, the Governor of Texas (Dan Manning) is confronted directly about the Chicken Ranch during a press conference and performs an enviable dance around the issue and across the stage until forced to make a decision that will bring the play to its inevitable conclusion.
"The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" runs through October 7 at Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Avenue in Arlington, Virginia. For info or tickets, call 703-820-9771 or visit http://www.signature-theatre.org.