« WSAU Opinion Blog

THEATER REVIEW - A bawdy good lesson about human nature

by Chris Conley

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a fun, rollicking, and occasionally melancholy musical, tells us something about human nature. Even the most prudish among us tend to be live-and-let-live kinds of people. Its too exhausting to deny everyone else their guilty pleasures. To do so is considered bad form.

Some kids are smoking in the boys room at school. The guy who runs the neighborhood diner takes bets on this weeks football game. Illegal slot machines spin in our bars. Wives and girlfriends know their men might visit the strip club on their way to deer camp. And the women sometimes sneak off to the all-male-revue while their hunters are away. And, for generations, everybody knew what was happening in the big white house outside of Gilbert, Texas. Theyre not bothering anyone. Madam Mona Stangley runs an orderly business. Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd doesnt mind as long as theres no trouble out there. In fact, Mona and Ed Earl have a long-term relationship of getting on just fine. And its an open secret, until someone yells really loud.

We see the worst in human nature in shock-TV-journalist Melvin P. Thorpe, who looks into the camera and screams Texas has a whorehouse in it! loud enough that looking the other way no longer suffices. No one dares yell back at the TV, actually, Texas has hundreds of chicken ranches.

The Governor eventually has to decide if looking the other way will suffice. A finger in the wind will determine whether the charade can continue.

Lisa Burgess is a fine Miss Mona. Shes a good singer, and is just strong-willed enough to keep order in her house while being just soft enough to win our sympathy. Jeff McDonald as the sheriff gets a years worth of cussin in a single performance, and still manages to make us feel sorry that hes duty-bound. Youll enjoy Larry Kirchgaessner as TV star Melvin P. Thorpe.

There are two supporting parts that are particularly well done. Michele Schlegel is Jewel, Miss Monas housekeeper and assistant. Shes the best singer on-stage, and is an undeniable talent. The role of the Governor is delicious. (Charles Dunning was nominated for an Oscar for his movie portrayal.) Scott Sargent eats up the role, and does an enjoyable side-step.

We find ourselves rooting for a madam and a foul-mouthed sheriff and, in between the fun, we learn that sometimes leaving good enough alone is the right choice. After all, you know what goes on under the high school football field bleachers, and what really happens inside the $40 a night motel room. You wont make a big deal about it, right?

Chris Conley
11/8/12

You may hear word-of-mouth that there were technical problems with this
performance. Thats true. There were several audio / microphone problems during
the evening. Dont let that keep you away. Those troubles are hard to fix
during a performance, but are certain to be corrected for the remainder of the run .

There are additional shows Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 and Sunday at 2pm.