May 2024
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
At SPCA May 16-June 2

Suze’s Prescott Center for the Arts is promising a rollickin’ good time as it proudly presents The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Set in the bustling town of Gilbert, Texas, this iconic musical tells the spirited tale of Miss Mona (played by Kea Byerly) and her Chicken Ranch (so named for the original proprietor’s willingness to accept chickens for, er, services rendered), a beloved institution known far and wide for its hospitality and charm. When crusading television reporter Melvin P. Thorpe (Mark Hay) sets his sights on shutting down this establishment, chaos ensues and the whole town finds itself swept up in a whirlwind of scandal and hilarity. Larry L. King and Peter Masterson wrote the Tony-nominated book.

Featuring a toe-tapping score by Carol Hall with memorable tunes like “Hard Candy Christmas” and “The Aggie Song,” The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a celebration of friendship, community, the resilience of the human spirit, and most of all, love. “It’s a beautiful love story. It’s about two people who find happiness with each other — in a very bizarre situation, but it’s very, very real. And it’s that love story that motivates the action of the entire piece,” says director, historian and fourth-generation Prescottonian Jody Drake.

Under Drake’s direction a cast of local performers will bring these characters to life. From the sultry sirens of Miss Mona’s girls to the bumbling antics of Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd (JP Perpich), each character leaps off the stage with unique energy and charisma, inviting you to join in their adventures.

As the title suggests, some content may not be suitable for all audiences. Drake is not unaware of the concerns about putting on such a show. “We had to be careful and not cast anyone under 16, and show respect for the subject matter, but it’s very tastefully handled. There’s nothing in the show that’s bold or garish. Everything’s lush and rich and really represents Texas. There’s no nudity. There’s a lot of dancing, a lot of good music, and a beautiful set.”

The show was adapted to film in 1982 starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds. Says Drake, “I think the stage play is a lot more honest. (Dolly Parton’s) presence and everything she brought to Mona was incredible, but not on the stage level.”

Drake vows that seasoned and new theatre goers alike can look forward to delightful entertainment from curtain rise to curtain fall.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas plays May 16–June 2 at Suze’s Prescott Center for the Arts;, 928-445-3286.

Lizabeth Rogers covers the local-theatre beat.

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