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February 2011

Release Date: Feb. 23, 2011ASU Logo

Arts at ASU to Present ‘Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’

The historical events leading up to the closing of the oldest continually operating brothel in the United States provide the basis for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” the Arts at ASU’s spring musical which will open Wednesday, March 2, on the Angelo State University campus.

Performances will be at 8 p.m. March 2-5 and 9-12 in the ASU Modular Theatre, with a matinee at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 6. Tickets are $8 for the general public, $4 for non-ASU students and $3 for ASU students. Admission is free for Arts at ASU subscribers and ASU activity card holders. The Modular Theatre is located in the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building, 2602 Dena Drive.

Based on the book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson, the musical focuses on the “Chicken Ranch,” which was located outside of LaGrange, Texas, until it was closed in the mid-1970s. Media coverage and religious indignation led to political pressure to permanently close the long-tolerated brothel, which was dubbed the “Chicken Ranch” after it began accepting chickens as payment for services during the Great Depression.

In the play, Miss Mona Stangley, the proprietor of the Chicken Ranch, takes care of her girls while maintaining harmony with local sheriff Ed Earl Dodd and her political clientele, including governors, senators, mayors and victorious football teams.

All goes well until television personality Melvin P. Thorpe, based on real-life Houstonian Marvin Zindler, leads a crusade to close down the ranch. Thorpe’s media coverage and religious indignation spark a political reaction that leads to the brothel’s closure.

James Worley, ASU associate professor of drama, is directing the musical production. He was also involved in a similar production at the Angelo Civic Theatre in the 1980s.

Worley said the ASU production would follow the play script much closer than the 1980 movie of the same name starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds. The play was patterned after Larry L. King’s mid-‘70s story in Texas Monthly magazine that recounted events leading up to the brothel’s closure.

“Larry L. King always had Dolly Parton in mind for the madam,” Worley said. “But when I saw the movie, I didn’t like what they did with it. It was very tongue-in-cheek, like nothing was going on…wink, wink. The people involved thought they were providing a service, but when they started getting all the national attention, the pressure started to shut them down.”

The cast is headed by Trina Medellin playing Stangley, Christopher Loyd as Thorpe, Christian Fernando Rios as Sheriff Dodd and Zeth Collum as the governor.

Also in the large cast are Heather Walker as Linda Lou, Ashley Garcia as Beatrice, Kelli Baucham as Eloise, Ashley Luckett as Durla, Niccolette Aguero as Dawn, Felicia Holland as Taddy Jo, Hillary Shurtleff as Ruby Rae, Samantha Sandifer as Ginger, Jordan Schocklee as Angel, Nicole Danese McDonald as Shy, Jaemi Rhodes as the dance captain and assorted roles, Daniel Wirth as the bandleader and assorted roles, Jacob Scott as Edsel Mackay and assorted roles, Valerie Soto in assorted roles, Jamie Westfall as Miss Wulla Jean, Brent Davidson as the slick dude, Leigha Murray as Jewel, LeRoyal Tutt as a dance captain and assorted roles, Michael ”Pugs” Loftis as Mayer Rufus Poindexter, Alexis Jolliff as Doatsey Mae, Matthew Posey as the TV announcer and Brandon Moss as a cowboy and in assorted roles. The production crew includes students Laurie Proveaux, stage manager; Katherine Heaney, assistant stage manager; Martin Rodriguez, set designer/master carpenter; Janna Pinson, master electrician; Amber Horton, costume designer/wardrobe manager; Matthew Posey, sound Technician; Leigha Murray, properties manager; Chriysti Friar, box office manager; and Amanda Sanders, house manager.

The University Theatre technical director is Matt Smith, and Eldra Sanford is the University Theatre costumer.

Tickets are on sale at the ASU box office, which is open 2-6 p.m. weekdays in the Carr Education-Fine Arts Building. Call 942-2000 for reservations.

For more information on the production and cast, contact the Arts at ASU at 942-2146.