Best Little Whorehouse in Texas Jan. 15, 2005
Welcome to Cerritos: “the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”
By Glen Creason
More than twenty-five years have passed since an offbeat musical called “the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” took Broadway by storm and productions have come and gone anonymously like patrons of such establishments over the past couple of decades. While the focus and dialogue of this comedy are light and humorous with tongue held firmly in cheek the Park Avenue Group production seen at Cerritos over the weekend really hit the spot. With moral hypocrisy running rampant today and holier than thou folk jumping to their feet in some of the darndest places Larry L. King’s sweet little farce seemed deliciously appropriate to the time. The story is as old as the world’s oldest profession but “Best Little…” throws in some fine music and hee haw foot stomping to cowboy boot. The ladies of the evening at the Chicken Ranch outside of a Texas town maintain standards of civility and comportment that make them more hostesses than, well, whores. While the play is quite earthy and the cast is made up of gorgeous, scantily clad women you do end up empathizing with them and understand the reasons why they are there and why they find a home in a brothel. There is a real sisterhood here and no one seems to get hurt or abused. Of course, this IS a musical but the point is made that this is a place of victimless crime which is allowed to flourish with the unofficial blessing of local politicians and law enforcement. After all, it is “the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”
At the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts the musical was held together with two strong lynch pins in Tori Lynn Palazola as Miss Mona, the madam with a soft heart and Gary Kimble as the tough but pragmatic Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd. There is the understated love story between the profane old Sheriff and the never quite legitimate businesswoman that ends up being touching and funny. Miss Palazola carried off her role with great sympathy and an excellent country voice that shone on numbers like “Girl, You’re a Woman Now” and the bittersweet “Bus from Amarillo” that gave rise to genuine sniffles in a show devoted mostly to ogling and uproarious laughter. Kimble gave us a sheriff with leather toughness yet a glint of romance under the Stetson hat her wore throughout. Truthfully, he had the best lines by far but he always hit those dead on, getting genuine horse-laughs from the full house. Surprisingly his singing of the key ballad “Good Old Girl” was perfect, full of texture and emotion. Meme as Jewel also proved be an added joy with an impressive voice and presence that made her role bigger than the character normally would command. Aaron Fuksa took on the difficult role as Melvin P. Thorpe, the hypocritical philistine who sets out to throttle the joy out of this landmark establishment and ends up succeeding in his phony puritan pursuit. Fuksa was unctuous and worthy of the hisses from the audience at play’s end that demonstrated his successful work as the villain of the piece. Lastly, the girls were splendid: prancing, dancing and raising the pulses of certain audience members. Sweet faced Angie Blocher as “Shy” and Melissa D’Amico as Angel were up to their important roles and the ensemble number of “Hard Candy Christmas” lead by Angel was indeed one to remember.
In the end, the naysayers and false prophets bring down the “Best Little…” but not before the girls and Miss Mona show them to be the really and truly evil ones.