t’s the late 70’s and we’re down in Gilbert, Texas where it’s hot outside but even hotter inside the Chicken Ranch. This little house, unassuming on the outside, has a big reputation in the county. We take our seats at our cabaret tables sitting on the edge of the stage painted like a wooden floor. At the back, we see a cutaway of the Chicken Ranch house. Neutral walls with minimal adornments and a singular couch sits center stage. It’s clear this is a well-kept place with no nonsense frills, just a few homey touches. Two young girls enter— one wearing hot pants and thigh high boots, the other in jeans and a t-shirt with butterflies. We join them stepping off the bus into The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
Strong Leading Ladies at Theo Ubique
Miss Mona played by Anne Sheridan Smith enters the stage as these two misfit girls fresh off the bus stand before her looking for a job. As their appearances might suggest, Angel (Chamaya Moody) has been in the business for a lot longer than Shy (Michaela Shapiro). Miss Mona asks them what brings them here and paints a picture for us of how this isn’t an ordinary brothel in A Lil' Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place. Here, they are ladies keeping their home, appearance, and language clean. And when Smith says no one messes with her girls, we believe her. Angel and Shy accept their new positions and make a new home for themselves alongside the other ladies at the Chicken Ranch.
Miss Mona is accompanied by her second in command, Miss Jewel played by Cynthia F. Carter. As she gets ready for her night off, she’s joined by the girls for her rousing number Twenty Four Hours of Loving. They all take to the stage and Carter belts out her plans for the night and we feel the joy in this community that everyone has for each other.
Hootin’ and Hollerin’ Ensemble Numbers
Though we get those belting numbers from Miss Mona and Miss Jewel, the ensemble also brings a lot of energy to the stage. The girls of the house come out in silky loungewear and undergarments to shimmy and dance excitedly in all their numbers. And at the beginning of Act 2, the boys join the Texas Governor for The Twostep. They line dance and leap their way around the stage and have us cheering for this high-energy number.
Watchdogs and Political Figures
But even with all the joy in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the house is faced with a problem as the media turns their attention on them thanks to TV personality Melvin P. Thorpe played by David Blakeman. He runs to and from every corner of the stage followed closely by his camera crew trying to rouse the crowd for his cause to shut this whorehouse down.
Soon all this hullabaloo draws the attention of the local Texas government. Playing all three political figures, Teddy Gales creates distinct personalities for each. He shakes and stutters as the nervous mayor, constantly reaching into his pocket for his bottle of antacids. He becomes larger than life as the hypocritical senator boasting and showboating for the football team. And finally appears as the preaching Governor here to clean up the great state of Texas. With each of these appearances he has everybody in the audience laughing, and steals the scene, in this writer’s opinion,
Each member of the cast brings The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas to life and have us wondering if Miss Mona’s will be shut down for good. For those looking for an upbeat night out at a fun musical, this would be a good fit for you.
Anne Sheridan Smith (she/they) as the owner of the chicken ranch, Miss Mona, with Cynthia F. Carter (she/her) as Miss Jewel and Marc Prince (he/him) as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd. The talented company includes Teddy Gales (he/him), David Blakeman (he/they), Chamaya Moody (she/her), Michaela Shapiro (they/them), Halle Bins (she/her), Kaitlin Feely (she/her), Laura Quiñones (she/her), Quinn Simmons (they/them), Brandon Acosta (he/him), Michael Penick (he/him), Bruce Holtman (he/him) and standby Miss Mona Khaki Pixley (she/her).
Bringing the chicken ranch to Theo’s intimate Howard Street Theatre will be scenic designer Manuel Ortiz (he/him), lighting designer Josiah Croegaert (he/him), costume designer Gregory Graham (he/him), properties designer Lonnae Hickman (she/her), and sound designer Stefanie Senior (she/her). The production team also includes production manager Molly Smith (they/them), stage manager Michelle Levinson (she/they), assistant director Lillian Castillo (she/her), assistant choreographer/swing J Alan (J/she), technical director Carl Herzog (he/him), audio engineer Isaac Mandel (he/him) and scenic painter Cassie Gant (she/her).
Book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson
Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall
Based on a story by Larry L. King
Directed by Landree Fleming
Music Directed by Isabella Isherwood
Choreographed by Jenna Schoppe
Thru January 29, 2023
Thursday-Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 6:00pm
Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre
721 Howard Street in Evanston
About the Author: Alexis Bugajski
Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.
Editor's Note: Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski