Stagebeat

In The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,the half-dressed, high-kicking high jinks of Miss Mona's girls and their Aggie companions is just enough to rescue this maudlin tale of a madam with a heart of gold whose business is interrupted by no-good do-gooder Melvin P. Thorpe (Justin Barnette) and his Christian band of hand-clapping, harmony-singing groupies. Mona (Jodi Lynn Sylvester) and her legendary chicken ranch are monuments in this Texas town; everyone from the football team to the governor has been a guest. But the town gets up in arms when what goes on behind closed doors is televised. Set in the '70s, the script brings back the days when the glass ceiling was much lower, though the girls here manage just fine. The camaraderie among them is touching, particularly during their parting song, "Hard Candy Christmas." Thorpe's puffed-up preaching adds levity; the stammering Sheriff Ed Earl (James Middleton), with his scatological language and tangential anecdotes, adds comic relief. Earl settles into "Good Old Girl," adding depth to what had been a one-dimensional character. His normal frenzied anxiety is a perfect opposite to Miss Mona, whose likable personality, calm composure, and hearty laughter add credibility to this collection of broadly drawn characters. She goes through enough costume changes to make your head spin, each one having more old-style Hollywood glamour than the previous. The set is charming, with multiple bedrooms with or without blinds drawn, adding a voyeuristic titillation. RisquRisqué in the style of the liberated '70s but filled with good-natured humor, the show starts slow, but the choreography keeps its battered old heart ticking. (Through May 9 at the Broward Stage Door Theater, 8036 W. Sample Road, Coral Springs, 954-344-7765) -- Rachel Galvin

 
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