The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas 

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The BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS, Marriott's Lincolnshire Theatre. Only in Texas would an 83-year-old bordello be cherished as a cultural treasure. But that just confirms the genius of Carol Hall, Larry L. King, and Peter Masterson's foot-stomping musical, in which you love the good-time girls of Miss Mona's Chicken Ranch because of their enemy, the self-righteous prig Melvin Thorpe. (There really was a Chicken Ranch in La Grange, where the fallen ladies dressed like debutantes, the local boys lost their virginity to experts, and, until 1973, local officials looked the other way because its taxes supported the town.)

Ripe with cornpone humor and country songs, Mark Hoebee's joyous revival features Marriott's most elaborate set, with see-through porches and catwalks that suggest the whorehouse's upper rooms. Yet even this expanded stage hardly seems big enough to contain the Aggie football team's hoedown or the crew of equivocating Texas pols' "sidestep." Heidi Fleiss with a drawl, Paula Scrofano's Miss Mona knocks the stuffing out of the ballad "No Lies," and Felicia Fields brings down the resort with her "Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin.'" James Anthony mines the charm of his embattled sheriff, and James FitzGerald exudes opportunism as the killjoy Melvin.

--Lawrence Bommer

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