Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Michelle DeJean, Kevin Cooney, Michael Tapley & More to Lead TUTS' THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS

Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) has announced the cast of The Best Little In Texas, playing July 15 - 20 for TUTS' 47th consecutive year of offering free musical theatre at Miller Outdoor Theatre.

It's all big songs and big hair in this sassy, spirited musical about a real-life brothel in Texas. Based on the "Chicken Ranch", the infamous, long-running house of ill repute, this tongue-in-cheek story chronicles Miss Mona Stangley, a classy yet brassy madam with a heart of gold, as her "business" becomes the center of a media controversy. Thrusting the Chicken Ranch into the spotlight is Melvin P. Thorpe, a loud-mouthed reporter based on Houston's own late Marvin Zindler.

Here's who you'll see around the "Chicken Ranch":

MICHELLE DEJEAN (Mona Stangley) Last seen on the TUTS stage as Aldonza in Man of La Mancha last season, Michelle is thrilled to be reprising her role as Miss Mona in BLWIT which she did for TUTS in 2012. Broadway, International and National Tours include Chicago (Roxie Hart), Oliver (Nancy), West Side Story (Anita), Jesus Christ Superstar, Mame (Gloria Upson), and over 17 other productions. Michelle attended and later taught at TUTS' Humphreys School, was a dance major and graduate of HSPVA, and trained at the Houston Ballet Academy on full scholarship. Michelle has starred on 5 continents in over 10 countries.

KEVIN COONEY (Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd) TUTS: Hands On A Hardbody, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, White Christmas, Guys and Dolls, Wonderful Life, 110 in the Shade, Anything Goes, Music Man, South Pacific, Sugar, Company, Little Me, 1776. Broadway/National tours: Best Little Whorehouse, Big River, Other People's Money, M. Butterfly. Television/Movies: Mad Men, Desperate Housewives, CSI, Without a Trace, Trip to Bountiful, Austin Powers, Primary Colors, Legally Blonde, Charlie Wilson's War, Bring It On Again, 23 Blast.

MICHAEL TAPLEY (Melvin P. Thorpe) Started his career in 1973 in the first indoor season for TUTS in the Music Hall. TUTS: Kismet, Gypsy, Chaplin, Oliver, 42nd Street, Pirates of Penzance, Grease, Scrooge, White Christmas, Man of La Mancha, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, Phantom, West Side Story, A Chorus Line and Evita. He covered the title role in The Who's Tommy for the first national tour, Germany and on Broadway. Tours: First National 42nd Street, The Unsinkable Molly Brown (w/Debbie Reynolds), Mame, Evita and Show Boat for HGO in Cairo.

JOHN HOLLY (Governor) John's career spans seven paths: Crystal World Cruise Special Events Coordinator, Theatre Consultant, Union Executive (Western Regional Director for Equity), Producer (MTW, TUTS, 5th Avenue, and Fords), Director (many shows), Stage Manager (national tours), and Actor (on and off Broadway). He serves as Chairman of the Actors Fund Western Council and sits on several theatre advisory boards.

PAUL HOPE (Senator Wingwoah/Scruggs) Is a native Houstonian and 20 year company member of the Alley Theatre. Credits: The Man Who Came To Dinner, The Unexpected Guest, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Clean House, House and Garden, Hay Fever, Love! Valour! Compassion!, Art, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Twelfth Night, I Hate Hamlet, Noises Off, The Foreigner, Grand Hotel, Mame, Sugar, La Cage, Showboat, Carnival of the Animals. He is the Artistic Director for Bayou City Concert Musicals.

JULIA KROHN (Amber) Original Las Vegas company of Jersey Boys (Lorraine). NYC credits: ABBA's Kristina (pre-Broadway workshop), Joy (Off-Broadway); Regional: Beauty and the Beast (Belle), Mack and Mabel. TUTS: Anything Goes, Cats, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Camelot, Man of La Mancha, Spamalot, A Chorus Line, Elf, Hands On A Hardbody; Alley Theatre: Sherlock Holmes, Christmas Carol, Toward Zero; Stages Repertory Theatre: Betty's Summer Vacation (Betty). First Place both as a "Presidential Scholar in the Arts" and in the NFAA ARTS.

BETTY MARIE MUESSIG (Shy) Is currently earning her BFA in Musical Theatre at Texas State University. She was last seen at TUTS Underground in Hands On A Hardbody. TUTS credits: Les Misèrables, Cabaret, and 13! Other credits include: Anything Goes, Somebody Called, Urinetown, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

DREW STARLIN (Bandleader/Narrator) Most recently played Benny Perkins in Hands On A Hardbody in TUTS Underground's inaugural season! Credits include Footloose (Chuck Cranston) Broadway Cast, Snakebit (Gary) Off-Broadway Cast, and Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Elvis) Clarence Brown Theatre. Television credits include "Law & Order," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "NUMB3RS," and "Monk".

JAY TRIBBLE (Edsel Mackey) Hobby Center credits include TUTS: White Christmas (Ezekiel Foster), Guys and Dolls (Calvin), The Sound of Music (Baron Elberfeld); Masquerade Theatre: Camelot (Merlin), The Sound of Music (Max Detweiler), Little Women (Mr. Lawrence), The Producers (Mr. Marks, Jason Green, Judge Maxwell), The Music Man (Constable); The Alley: Our Town (Farmer McCarty); Country Playhouse: Yuletide Caberet.

AURELIA WILLIAMS (Jewel) Is so excited to return to TUTS! She was last here playing "Effie" in Dreamgirls. Currently, she is taking a break from the off b'way hit Sistas The Musical to join this fabulous team! Some past credits include: "Asaka"-Once on this Island, "Gloria"-Madagascar LIVE,"Katisha"-Hot Mikado, "BJ" - Smokey Joe's Cafe and All Shook Up. In October, she will be appearing on the new sketch comedy Friends of the People on TruTV.

BROOKE WILSON (Doatsey Mae) Favorite credits: Hands On A Hardbody (Cindy), Urban Cowboy (Sissy), Whorehouse (Shy) at TUTS, Trailer Park Musical (Jeannie), Full Monty (Georgie), Rent (Maureen), Trailer Park Musical (Pippi), Evita (Eva cover), Whorehouse (Durla), The Water Coolers (Judy) (nat'l/inat'l tours), Honky Tonk Angels (Sue Ellen), Bat Boy (Maggie), Beauty And The Beast (Babette), Footloose (Ariel), When You Wish, Singing In The Rain, Cats, Beauty And The Beast at TUTS, The Miser and Forum.

BRAD ZIMMERMAN (Mayor Rufus Poindexter/Chip Brewster) Houston credits include Hands On A Hardbody (Don) with TUTS, Next to Normal (Dan) and Young Frankenstein (Igor), both with SRO Productions, Myths and Hymns (Ensemble) and First Lady Suite (Ensemble) with Bit of a Stretch, Sherlock Holmes (Sid Prince) with AD Players, Hairspray (Wilbur) with Queensbury Theatre, and Cabaret (Herr Schultz) with Masquerade Theatre. Regionally, Brad performed two seasons with Boston Lyric Opera and performed the role of Nitch in The Merry Widow with Mississippi Opera.

The ensemble for the show includes Courtney Chilton, Laura Henning, Michael D. Jablonski, Danica Johnston, Kate Kislingbury, Alissa LaVergne, Alex Nordin, Lauren Pastorek, Peyton Royal, Cole Ryden, Michaeljon Slinger, Jeff Smith, Charles Swan, Madison Turner, Mikey Winslow and Dru Wiser.

The creative team: director Bruce Lumpkin, choreographer Shay Rodgers, costume designer Ray Delle Robbins, musical director and conductor Jim Vukovich, sound designer Christopher 'Kit' Bond and lighting designer Richard Winkler.

Free tickets for the covered seats are available on the day of performance between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Miller Theatre Box Office. Free tickets are limited to four per person. Any tickets remaining will be given out one hour before curtain.

Don't want to wait in line? For each $50 tax-deductible donation to TUTS, the organization will set aside two reserved tickets under the covered pavilion so you may enjoy the show and experience how your generosity makes the music happen. To reserve tickets, visit or call 713.558.2651. Ticketholders are asked to arrive early as any unfilled seats will be released to the general public at 8 p.m.

No tickets? No problem! Bring a cozy blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the show from the Miller Theatre lawn, the perfect place for a picnic and a show! Patrons are encouraged to utilize public transportation to Miller Outdoor Theatre. Click here for a complete list of bus schedules and routes.

Featured This Week on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes, and More from Your Favorite Broadway Stars

Related Articles View More Houston Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You