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The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

Music & Lyrics: Carol Hall

Book: Larry L. King & Peter Masterson

THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS is based on the true story of a legendary Texas brothel known as the Chicken Ranch which operated from the 1840s to 1973 when it was finally shut down by the efforts of a crusading Houston radio commentator and his conservative audience.

The musical begins during the last days of the Chicken Ranch (which earned its name because, during the depression, customers were allowed to pay with poultry!) Melvin P. Thorpe, a television broadcaster eager for the spotlight, has just scored a career triumph by exposing a peanut bar for not having as many peanuts as advertised. And now he turns his attention to what is potentially a much bigger triumph--this appalling thing he calls "loveless copulation" at the Chicken Ranch. Although many of the state's politicians have, in fact, been customers of the brothel, they are eager to preserve their political careers and thus choose to publically denounce the Chicken Ranch and its inhabitants. Finally, in spite of the protection of the local sheriff, Miss Mona, the proprietress of the Chicken Ranch, is thrown out onto the street along with all of her girls, even as Melvin P. Thorpe receives a commendation from the Governor for his services to the state of Texas.

THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS was originally produced at the Actor's Studio, New York, on October 20, 1977. It was subsequently produced at the Entermedia Theatre, New York, on April 17, 1978. This production was directed by Peter Masterson and Tommy Tune, with choreography by Tommy Tune, and featured Carlin Glynn as "Miss Mona" and Henderson Forsythe as "Ed Earl Dodd." On June 19, 1978, the musical moved to the 46th Street Theatre on Broadway. There, it enjoyed a run of 1584 performances before closing on March 27, 1982. The 1982 film version, which includes additional songs by Dolly Parton, features Parton as "Miss Mona" and Burt Reynolds as "Ed Earl Dodd."

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This document was written by J. Crabb and originally published on this website on April 1, 2002.

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