REVIEW WRITTEN BY CHERYL THORNBURG
If you’re feeling a little grumpy, head over to Genesius Theatre in Reading to see “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” – it’s guaranteed to get you laughing. This classic musical comedy romp with a Western twang delivers great comedy and equally great vocals by an outstanding cast.
At the heart of the show is Miss Mona, who heads up the house of ill repute known as The Chicken Ranch, which actually operated for many decades until a TV crusader helped shut it down. Becka Malanios is perfection as Miss Mona. She delivers one great song after another and embodies the warm and motherly spirit of Mona who took care of her girls.
Malanios is backed up by some of the best comedic actors and singers in Berks County.
Chris Duffy’s Sheriff Ed Earl is spot on as Mona’s friend and love interest. The second he walks on stage, you know he’s a lawman and he shows off his vocal talent in “Good Old Girl,” in the second act.
Nick Freer steals almost every scene he’s in as Melvin P. Thorpe, the crusader determined to shut down the Chicken Ranch. He leads the hand-clapping, foot-stomping “Texas Has a Whorehouse in It” with energy and enthusiasm that is infectious.
Susie DeBooth has one of the best voices I’ve heard in recent years and as Jewel, Mona’s friend and assistant, she delivers some of the best numbers in the show: “Twenty Four Hours of Lovin'” with the girls and “No Lies,” a duet with Mona.
One of the highlights of the show is Carl Wolfe as Texas Governor Briscoe singing and dancing “The Sidestep.” It is impossible not to laugh at his antics. I don’t know who had more fun – Wolfe performing or the audience watching him.
Simmon Fecho delivers a touching moment as Doatsy Mae, with a song of the same name.
Another of the memorable numbers features members of the Aggies football team, who sang and danced their way into the hearts of the audience with “The Aggie Song.” They are Anthony Disla, Jacob Fowler, Joey Moray, Deshaun Willliams, Josh Yannuzzi and Strat Yost.
Most of the characters play multiple roles.
The talented “ladies” include Megan Cusano as Shy, Dara Himes as Angel and Mamie Covell, Melissa Gump, Briana Christie, Kelly Moray, Erin Aposokardu, Mary McCormack, Alison Wise and Abby Hoy. They also play townspeople and protesters.
Nick Schwenk plays Edsel Mackey, the editor of the newspaper as well as a bandleader who sets the stage for the show in the prologue. Dean Fichthorn also does double duty as the colorful Mayor Rufus Poindexter and Senator Wingwoah.
The show is directed by Christopher Sperat, with music direction by Aimee Deibert and choreography Jennifer Parker Scott, Kathi Christie is the stage manager. “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” continues through Sunday, June 26, at the theater at 153 North 10th Street in Reading. Tickets range from $17.50 to $28.50 and are available atwww.genesiusdifference.org or by calling 610-373-9500. Card fees apply. Tickets also available at the door.
The play is RATED PG 13 – This musical contains adult situations and language.
Genesius Theatre is handicapped accessible and there is free parking (limited spaces available) next to the theater. For more information, call the theater at 610-371-8151.