BWW Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Blows The Roof Off THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS

BWW Review: Arizona Broadway Theatre Blows The Roof Off THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS

Yeehaw! Arizona Broadway Theatre blows the roof off the THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS with a non-stop hit parade of Lone Star big star moments. Leading the pack is Cassandra Norville Klaphake as Miss Mona, the madam of the legendary brothel that inspired Carol Hall, Larry King, and Peter Masterson to pen the tale of tricks and treats. Klaphake delivers a commanding performance as the mother hen who guards her coop with a righteous blend of good business sense and sentimentality. She has to be on guard as the forces of morality inveigh against her enterprising ways.

It wasn't long after I moved to Houston in 1973 that I tuned into KTRK-TV and discovered Marvin Zindler, Eyewitness News. Already famous for his Rat and Roach Reports and his signature sign-off, he caught the national eye with his expose on the shenanigans at the Chicken Ranch, a brothel frequented by the rich and famous in nearby Fayette County. Fast forward to 1978 and you have the Broadway hit that garnered several Tony nominations followed up by the movie version in 1982 featuring Dolly Parton. I guarantee that this show captures the carnival atmosphere of the time to a tee.

Doing double duty as the show's director (well done!) and as Melvin P. Thorpe, the ultra showman reporter (Zindler incarnate), Andy Meyers parades across the stage with panache in high rolling song and swivel toed dance.

Chanel Bragg, who blew my socks off in her performance last year as Effie in Dreamgirls, does it again as Jewel, the Ranch's cook and maid, in a sassy and soulful rendition of Twenty Four Hours of Lovin'.

Renee Kathleen Koher is equally remarkable for her brief but fully loaded turn as Doatsey Mae, the affable waitress at the Texas Twinkle Café. In a tenderly reflective song about the elusiveness of her dreams for something better ("I wanted to but I never could"), Koher is revelatory.

Mark DiConzo is Texas gold as the reluctant enforcer of the law, Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, with a fancy for Miss Mona.

Kurtis Overby's choreography is splendid and exhilarating, most notably when an octet of severely buff dudes deliver a vigorous display of agility in The Aggie Song.

Yep, no question about it, ABT's production is a rousing affair featuring one heck of a gold star ensemble. And it ends with Ms. Klaphake closing out with a tear-inducing rendition of I Will Always Love You ~ and for that and for the rest of the show, who can't help but love THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS.

THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS runs through May 8th.

Photo credit to Scott Samplin



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