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'Best Little Whorehouse' hitting BST stage
JOHN WARNER/Gazette StaffMiss Mona is played by Susan Kennedy Sommerfeld and the sheriff is portrayed by Ken Quinley. Below, others in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” are, from left, Ira Robison, Jim Martin, Vincent Raye, Kelly Martin and Terry Padgett.

Miss Mona runs the whorehouse. Melvin P. Thorpe is trying to close the place down. The Chicken Ranch is in for challenging times. What will the girls do?

Because of the depression, clients paid for their fun with poultry, thus the name. That amusing bit forms the basis for the good old boy treats of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas."

The story of "the best pleasure palace in all Texas" also features a character named Ed Earl, the small-time sheriff sweet on Miss Mona.

Other colorful characters float in and out with fabulous songs.

We hear from Jewel, one of the girls, a traveling salesman, dudes, farmers, and a half-dozen of the other girls: Linda Lou, Dawn, Ginger, Ruby Rae and others.

The band is known as the Rio Grande Band, and even the governor takes a turn, an evangelist pays a call, the Aggies show up to strut their stuff and we hear from colorful boy back-up singers, known as the Dogettes.

It's a tasty slice of musical theater, which I saw in the early 1980s at the 46th Street Theatre in New York. Larry L. King and Peter Masterson collaborated on the stage play version, then Universal delivered a disappointing movie version.

Despite such big guns as Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds, the movie fizzled. But the play lives on in its Texas humor glory, and Billings Studio Theatre opens its production tonight, for a run through June 14.

Jeffrey Boschee directs, with Carolyn Peters heading up the important musical end of things.

Susan Sommerfeld plays Miss Mona, the no nonsense and sexy proprietress of the cozy bordello.

If you go "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" opens today at Billings Studio Theatre, 1500 Rimrock Road, and runs through June 14. Tickets are $12. Curtain times vary. Call 248-1141.

Ken Quinley plays the gutsy sheriff who has known Miss Mona for many years.

Melvin P. Thorpe is played by Vincent Raye, whose character makes the Chicken Ranch a statewide issue and sends in the side stepping governor, Jim Martin..

Music includes the rousing "Texas Has a Whorehouse In It," "Hard Candy Christmas," and "Lil' Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place."

Susan Kennedy Sommerfeld promises lively choreography to enhance the rip-snorting musical numbers.

Rounding out the cast are song and dance veterans including Diane Martin, Bobbie Hawk, Elizabeth Alexander, Tammy Mehlhaff, Angela Hudson, Jorge Belotta, Ira Robison, Brian Taylor and many others.

Boschee is having fun grooming the broad Texas accents and advises people: "ya'll don't want to miss it, ya hear."

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