The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is better known as being the Dolly Parton film with Burt Reynolds. The story surrounds a real brothel, The Chicken Ranch, where payment was often not of the monetary kind, which is how the place got it’s name.Under the proprietorship of Miss Mona, and protected by a friendly sheriff, The Chicken Ranch is frequented by politicians, football teams, and others, and thrives in the small town of Gilbert, Texas. That is until Miss Mona and her girls come under fire from the religious televangelist, Melvin P. Thorpe.
Julie Easter (Miss Mona Stangley) oozes style and class, and what a voice this woman has. It’s not that easy to sound Country but Julie’s intonation of the songs make her sound as if she’s sung this style all her life. And I just fell in love with Julie’s delivery of The Bus From Amarillo. Jeremy Malpas (Sherriff Ed Earl Dodd) delivers a sure fire and steady performance, Dodd faithful to Mona’s cause but torn between what he is forced into and keeping the status quo. Jeremy brings an aggressive passion to the musical in his role. Gemma Farnell (Jewel Mosley) is Miss Mona’s right hand woman, sticking up for the girls and Mona.
Anita Benson (Doatsy Mae Grimes) is a smaller character role but a lovely robust character with dreams, as expressed in her reflective song Doatsy Mae. David Perkins (Melvin P. Thorpe) reminded me visually of a cross between a perma tanned Donald Trump and 70’s comedian Duncan Norvelle. What a wonderful character part and I love the costumes Melvin has to wear. This is the comedy role in this play and the casting is spot on.
Duncan Gadsby (Governor Briscoe) also brings the comedy with this character. Briscoe has a political sidestepping trait which is wonderfully bore out in song, aptly called The Sidestep. Carl Unwin (Bandleader + several other roles). It’s always good to see Carl in a musical and he sets the scene from the start and carries the story line through as if he was the narrator.Holly Easter (Angel) starts off as a strong confident character in Angel who it’s then revealed to be doing this job for a completely different reason from what we expected. In a softer scene where she is talking to her son on the phone, Angel shows a real motherly side to her. this is also noticed by Mona. A lovely, warm contrasting role for Holly. Sophie Draycott (Shy) also shows a radical transformation from a shy “schoolgirl” character to a very confident and able employee of Mona’s establishment!
A large ensemble.with a few new faces as well flesh out – and in parts I do mean FLESH OUT – the cast. This musical definitely has something for both the men and women eye candy wise.This may sound a bit “sexist pig” but the musical is set in the 70’s and while it may have lost the shock value of when it was written and performed first, as well as the radical – for the time- subject matter, the show is very entertaining, and come on, we all like to see a bit of flesh don’t we?Directed and choreographed by Michael Gamble, on both accounts it was a big success. I loved the energy in the dance numbers and the pace of the scenes were just right. No hanging about as the scenes flowed from one to the next.
The sets themselves were designed by Scenic Projects giving a professional and glamorous sheen all round.One man who must have been run ragged was the Stage Manager, Adrian Wray, keeping this particular ship on a perfect even keel. Ably assisted by Lynne Leeming. A large amount of wonderful costumes and wigs made this a visual treat.The band of six really created a wonderful Nashville feel and I’m a sucker for a proper pedal steel guitar, played with feeling by John Davis. All under the musical direction of Vicki Hing. Great sound and great lighting brought even more life to this bouncy show. Christchurch Theatre Club have many strengths, which is why they have such a massively loyal following, as shown in the packed theatre tonight, but one that I’ve always loved and admired is their harmony work. When you hear “Hard Candy Christmas” and the barbershop style of “20 Fans”, they really show off the vocal talents of their ensemble work. A treat for the ears.
From the front of house people to the people on and off the stage, you’ll find this group one of the friendliest as well as hard working bunch in local theatre, which is why they are as popular as they are.For a fun and very lively show with some great uptempo songs and tear-jerking ballads, boundless energy, you’ll be hard pushed to find one as entertaining this week. And while there’s plenty of flesh on show from the start, just remember, there’s nothing dirty going on! Yeeeeehah! The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas is open for business until Saturday 5 May 2018. Unfortunately ticket fee is monetary so no chickens will be taken as fare here.