THE BEST LITTLE WH0REH0USE IN TEXASBy Carol Hall, Larry King, and Peter Masterson
Greater Lewisville Community Theatre
Director/Music Director – Rebecca Lowrey
Choreographer – Christina Kudlicki Hoth
Lighting Design – Benjamin Keegan Arnold
Sound Design – Brian Christiansen
Costume Design – Elizabeth Lambert
Scenic Design – Alex Rain
Technical Director – Elizabeth Ann Lambert
Miss Mona Stangley: Kristal Seid
Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd: Alex Rain
Jewel: Cherish Robinson
Melvin P. Thorpe: Tom DeWester
Governor/C.J. Scruggs: Gary E. Payne
Doatsey Mae: Brittany Brown
Mayor Rufus/Senator Wingwoah: Jared Culpepper
Bandleader/Edsel Mackey: Jason Steele
Angel: Christina Kudlicki Hoth
Shy: Jenna Smith
Dawn: Brigitte Goldman
Ruby Rae: Jennifer Steele
Linda Lou: Stephanie M. Ormston
Ginger: Amanda Brown
Ensemble: Brian Christensen, Michael Christian, Tomas Moquete, Carlos Strudwick
Lead Guitar: Tanner Peterson
Rhythm Guitar: Jason Steele
Bass: Bill Zauner
Drums: Kami Lujan
Piano: Rebecca Lowrey
Fiddle: Bethany Hardwock
Trombone: Brian Christensen
Trumpet: Carlos Strudwick
Reviewed Performance: 6/8/2019
Reviewed by Jeri Tellez, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
Rebecca Lowrey created an engaging, funny and touching production. Her stage directions were ingenious, providing certain cast members a cleverly disguised exit, and all characters were visible. Her musical talent is known throughout the DFW theatre community, for good reason. The singers were well taught and balanced. Their diction was easy to understand, and the songs were easy to follow. Her keyboard talents were also apparent. Christina Kudlicki Hoth’s choreography was, as usual, clever and engaging. All the cast was together in both timing and movements, and it was exciting to watch. The tap choreography was an unexpected gem.
The lighting designed by Benjamin Keegan Arnold was beautifully inconspicuous. There were a few specials highlighting intimate moments, and some well-placed flashlights, but otherwise I didn’t notice the lighting, which was a good thing. There was a bit more backlighting in my eyes than I prefer, but given the parameters of the theatre, I don’t know that Arnold had much choice in that detail.
Elizabeth Ann Lambert’s costumes were divine, from the obligatory negligees to the choir robes, and everything in between. Because there were numerous costume changes, Lambert had her hands full, and she rose to the challenge. Everything was period, and the dual-purpose pieces made quick changes a bit easier. The only thing missing was a plaid sport coat.
The sound design by Brian Christensen was simple yet effective. The various sound effects were well-placed, and intermission songs were of the correct period and genre to keep the audience engaged. It was hard to hear the singers when the band got loud, but otherwise the balance between singers was well-done.
Alex Rain’s scenic design was basic yet functional. The various platforms served well as a living room, courthouse steps, bedrooms, and the sheriff’s office. While there were only a few moving set pieces, there was never a question where the action was set.
The band, while well balanced, at times overpowered the singers. All in all, they sounded great by themselves. Lowrey and Christensen had a difficult task balancing an unamplified band with mic’d singers. They struggled with the acoustics of the room, and possibly the fact that both were in the band. When the band was quiet, the balance was divine, however there were times I struggled to hear the singers.
Kristal Seid, as Miss Mona Stangley, did a fabulous job portraying the varied emotions felt by the proprietor of the Chicken Ranch. Her singing was heartfelt and beautiful, her interactions with castmates were perfect, and her facial expressions added depth of character to Miss Mona.
Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, portrayed by Alex Rain, was your typical rural sheriff, known and loved by most of the citizens. His relationship with Miss Mona was complicated, and his expressions when they were together displayed deeper feelings than either was able to put in words. His solo almost brought me to tears.
Cherish Robinson, as Jewel, was truly a jewel in every way. Her voice was powerful yet sensitive, her solo was a show-stopper, and her duet with Seid was perfect. Her physical and facial expressions revealed a sassy, no-nonsense woman who knew her responsibilities, but had a tender side as well.
Melvin P. Thorpe, played masterfully by Tom DeWester, was the antagonist you loved to hate. He was a busy-body know-it-all who believed himself to be on a righteous crusade to rid the Houston area of corruption and unsafe conditions. His flamboyant personality, however, made him appear more concerned about his ratings than his reporting. DeWester did a flawless job bringing him to life.
Gary E. Payne did a marvelous job of balancing his dual roles of the Governor and C.J. Scruggs. The Governor was a flashy crowd pleaser, while Scruggs was your typical insurance salesman in small-town America. Scruggs was torn between differing viewpoints among his clients, while the Governor was self-assured and knew how to play the crowd. The Governor’s security team was a nice touch, in their matching flashy ties.
Doatsey Mae, brought to life by Brittany Brown, was a diner waitress who was more than meets the eye. Brown showed us how Doatsey Mae had dreams and regrets, but was making the best of small town life. Her solo was beautiful.
Jared Culpepper, who portrayed both Mayor Rufus and Senator Wingwoah, played both politicians with ease. Mayor Rufus was on top of the opinions and reactions of the townspeople, and was not easily flustered. The Senator, however, was a bit less polished, and was obviously distressed when caught with his pants down, so to speak.
Jason Steele both opened and closed the show with vocal/guitar solos that set the stage and summed up the action nicely. He also portrayed newsman Edsel Mackey, who had a lively duel with Thorpe.
Christina Kudlicki Hoth, as Angel, gave her character a multi-faceted personality appropriate to the part. She was outgoing yet cautious, tough yet tender, and friendly with a bit of an attitude. She also had various other roles in the ensemble, each one having her own accompanying temperament.
As Shy, Jenna Smith was appropriately, well, shy. She was embarrassed to be seen in her slip, and unable to say hello to the customers at first. Over time she opened up, but never seemed to find a more appropriate name. Her participation in the ensemble as a chorister and cheerleader displayed a varied acting ability.
Brigitte Goldman, Jennifer Steele, Stephanie M. Ormston, and Amanda Brown, who played Dawn, Ruby Rae, Linda Lou, and Ginger respectively, were the perfect accompaniment to the others at the Chicken Ranch. They worked well together, whether they were working ladies, cheerleaders, or choristers. Their balance and timing was impeccable, whether speaking or singing.
The men of the ensemble, Brian Christensen, Michael Christian, Tomas Moquete, and Carlos Strudwick, showed an assortment of skills, not only in singing and dancing, but also in versatility. I particularly enjoyed seeing Christensen and Strudwick as the news crew and the Governor’s security team; and seeing Christian and Moquete as surprise participants on the football sideline was hilarious. Above all, Strudwick’s unexpected dance solo was simply divine.
This was a side splitting comedy and touching drama all in one. While this is not a family friendly show, my companion and I were both impressed and entertained. I highly recommend you see this gem before they close.
For more information or to purchase tickets go to www.glct.org or call 972-221-SHOW (7469).