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‘Oldest profession’ subject of Curtain Call Players current theatre production

North York Mirror By Mark Andrew Lawrence

Broadway has long held a fascination with women engaged in the oldest profession. For a 1930 musical called The New Yorkers, Cole Porter wrote the song ‘Love For Sale’. It was almost immediately banned from radio airplay, and naturally became a top seller in sheet music form and on records.

In the years that followed, Broadway saw a parade of hookers including Sadie Thompson, Sweet Charity and Irma La Douce. Add to this colorful group Miss Mona, proprietress of The Chicken Ranch, better known as The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

The legend of the Chicken Ranch inspired Universal Pictures to bankroll a lively musical comedy with a country-flavored score by Carol Hall. The show was a big Broadway hit running for over five years. A film version starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton was released in 1982 giving the title even wider popularity.

In the production by Curtain Call Players at Fairview Library Theatre, Miss Mona is portrayed by a strong-voiced Lisa Ferreira.

Her no-nonsense approach to the role is just perfect, and her singing delights the audience with its clarion country sounds. She is given great support by the Chicken Ranch regulars including Amy Mullin as Jewel, Meg Gibson as Angel, and Glenna Conant as the newly recruited and aptly named Shy.

The villain of the piece is Melvin P. Thorpe, played with all the self-righteousness of a typical TV evangelist. David Rudat brings out the smarminess of this totally amoral creature.

When Thorpe comes up against the town sheriff, Ed Earl Dodd, played by Rick Schiralli, the fireworks really begin. First in his very public tirade against the TV reporter, and then later in a heated exchange with Miss Mona.

Barry Flynn makes a welcome contribution with his second act number ‘the Sidestep’ as he cleverly avoids giving direct answers to any questions.

The show-stopping number features the local football team, The Aggies, who perform a spirited locker room song and dance in anticipation of their visit to the Chicken Ranch. Jon Alexander provides the choreography and it gives the production a real lift.

Keith O’Connell keeps the show moving along at a brisk pace encouraging the performers to the flirtation with their wild side yet keeping everything innocent and carefree. Despite the allusions to what goes on in the upstairs bedrooms, O’Connell walks a fine line between a sexy tease and good taste and at least in public there is “nothin’ dirty goin’ on” as one lyric states.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is playing at Fairview Library Theatre, 35 Fairview Mall Drive, until May 7. For tickets visit www.curtaincallplayers.com or call 416-703-6181.

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