BWW Review: BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS at GLOW Lyric Theatre
Just down the road, past the Bad Curves sign, you'll find the Chicken Ranch. Now this is not some kind of meat processing facility - er, well, actually, maybe it is. For the Chicken Ranch is a house of ill repute - in fact, you could say it is the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Miss Mona (Nikki Yarnell) runs the place but it's the Sheriff (Shawn Hardee) who allows it to stay open - well, the Sheriff and the politicians and the football team and all the other "guests" who've been visiting on a regular basis ever since the place was founded many generations ago. But that's all about to change. A blowhard TV reporter (Dave LaPage) has announced to the world that "Texas Has A Whorehouse In It" and now it's only a matter of time before the chickens come home to roost. (sorry) (not sorry)
Each year, Glow Lyric Theatre chooses a theme to underscore their summer repertory season. For this season, artistic director Jenna Tamisiea chose to produce "a season that would invite discussion about the nuances and complexities of womanhood." In The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, that focus is on Miss Mona as entrepreneur.
In this version - directed by Tamisiea - Mona is low key and always in control. Nikki Yarnell brings more gravitas than playfulness to the role of the madam in charge of the Chicken Ranch. You believe that with her running things, there is - as she sings in the charming "Lil Old Bitty Pissant Country Place" - "nothin' dirty goin' on." But don't worry, this is not a theatrical polemic. It's a rambling, antic musical comedy romp, filled with good spirits, some toe-tapping tunes, and a squad of dancing football players. And if the script doesn't exactly all come together and the pacing could stand to be a little tighter, well, at least there's a good time to be had along the way.
There's a lot of bawdy humor and fun music, led by a kickin' house band. Some of the standout songs include Candace Spencer's raucous and raunchy "24 Hours," the wonderful Bruce Meahl leading "The Sidestep, " and the big production number 'The Aggie Dance" featuring the aforementioned dancing football team. Supporting player Maddie Tisdel also makes a big impression as the cheerful Ginger. But probably my favorite part of the whole night was Mary Evan Giles' showstopping performance as Doatsey Mae, singing her eponymous song. Giles has a dynamite voice and she deserved the huge round of applause she got.
Playing in rep with Best Little Whorehouse is My Fair Lady and the opera Carmen, all performed in the same space at The Warehouse Theatre. It's mighty hot outside so do yourself a favor and cool off with GLOW.