Author Archive for: ‘SteveMurray’

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The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Written by  Larry L. King and Peter Masterson
Music and lyrics by Carol Hall
Directed by Christina Lazo
42nd Street Moon

Seems like the bad guys have been winning lately, the extension of a long, long series of events that has its genesis in the down and dirty Nixon era. The tough brothel owner Miss Mona Stangely and her hardworking ladies of the Chicken Ranch are the big losers in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, victims of the Bible-thumping, redneck conservatives of the mid 1970’s. 42nd Street Moon’s season opener has all the delightful charm of naughty liberals shoving it in the face of the ‘man’. The heroes and heroines are all strong, feisty and determined, the bad guys cartoonish caricatures of rotten politicians, moral crusaders and oafish provincial civil servants. Mix it up with a passable score, some killer dance numbers and the musical direction of Dave Dobrusky and you’ve got a fun-filled, toe-tapping evening.

The Chicken Ranch has been operating for decades in the sleepy town of Gilbert, Texas with a nod and a wink from local authorities, State Senators and even the Governor himself, who partake of the ‘services’ provided. The proprietor, Miss Mona (Dyan McBride), is a tough as nails but gentle to her ladies kinda gal. Sweet on the local Sheriff, Ed Earl Dodd (Michael Ray Wisely), the unlikely couple battle a big city television crusader (a deliciously evil D C Scarpelli) determined to shut the place down.

Dyan McBride and Michael Ray Wisely are both tough, yet vulnerable. DC Scarpelli’s Melvin P. Thorpe is based on a real-life character prone to wearing makeup and a toupee. He’s ripe for caricature and Scarpelli plays him like the hypocritical coke snorting buffoon he is. Doris Bumpus is wonderful as Miss Mona’s right hand lady Jewel and knocks “Twenty-Four House of Lovin” out of the house.

DC Scarpelli (center) as Melvin P. Thorpe with the Thorpe Singers

Along the way we’re treated to some sweet and lovable townsfolk; Michael Barrett Austin as the bumbling Senator Wingwoah and Mayor Rufus Poindexter, Brian Watson as Governor C.J. Scruggs and Taylor Bartloucci as the wisecracking waitress Doatsey Mae. Wonderful comic acting by a solid supporting cast is uplifted by the Direction and Choreography of Christina Lazo. The show certainly moves, and both the male and female chorus lines are more than up the energy level required.

(L to R) Brian Watson as C.J. Scruggs, Taylor Bartolucci as Doatsey Mae, and Michael Barrett Austin as Mayor Poindexter.

The ‘ladies’ ( Andrea Dennison-Laufer , Yuliya Eydelnant , Ashley Garrick , Britney Monroe, Anne Norland  and Madison Genovese ) are the heart of the ranch, each with a distinct look and attitude. Shy is the new girl eager to fit in, Angel is a single mother who wants more for her kid. Their numbers, “A Lil Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place”, “Girl You’re a Woman” and “No Lies” shine with energy and precision.

Michael Barrett Austin (center) as Senator Wingwoah with the Aggie football team.

The Aggies (Mike Birr, Patrick Brewer, Carlos Guerrero, Matt Hammons and Cameron LaBrie) are full of piss and vinegar, exuding youthful machoism and excitement at the prospect of a free ride at the Ranch is they beat their Texas football rivals. “The Aggie Song”, probably the best-known tune is a rousing first act finale.

Brian Watson’s set design is simple and effective. The upstairs rooms of the brothel, created with wooden slats and lit by red light of course, allow us to peep in on the action. Its all brought together under the watchful musical direction of Dave Dobrusky, who always seem to be hidden somewhere within the labyrinth of the sets.

DC Scarpelli as Melvin P. Thorpe faces off against Brian Watson as the Governor of Texas.

Sadly, there’s no happy ending as the brothel closes and the ladies go on their individual paths. It’s a rollicking, fun-filled romp with good-hearted madams and prostitutes and you don’t get to see that too often.

he Best Little Whorehouse in Texas continues through October 14th, 2018 at Gateway Theater, 215 Jackson Street, San Francisco. Tickets are available online at http://www.42ndstmoon.org/ or by calling (415) 255-8207.

Photos by Ben Krantz