|Cassandra Norville Klaphake and Mark DiConzo|
Photo by Scott Samplin
Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 8th.
"...Best Little Whorehouse delivers a rollicking good hootenanny of a time with a fun, high-energy cast, some good voices and great choreography from Kurtis W. Overby.... Ironically, in a show where the title suggests no shortage of good time gals, the strongest and certainly the most entertaining of characters tend to be the male roles. From the side stepping Governor (Michael Weaver), the senator caught with his pants down (Bob Downing) and the overzealous, bewigged TV presenter Melvin P. Thorpe (Andy Meyers who also doubles as director), the boys are given the best opportunity to grab laughs and act as broadly as required. ... musical highlights include The Aggie Song with its energetic hoedown choreography, Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin’ sung with great gusto by Jewel (Chanel Bragg) and Doatsey Mae’s (Renee Kathleen Koher) self-titled song. ...Miss Mona, the brothel’s proprietor, is here played ABT’s Casting and Artistic Producer Cassandra Klaphake...brings that sense of authority and tough-love leadership that Miss Mona requires, but as a singer, her voice and sound aren’t altogether suited to the style of the songs. As previously proven, ...given the right part, Cassandra succeeds, but here with Carol Hall’s score, Cassandra’s approach doesn’t work as well. ...Mark DiConzo’s very funny portrayal of Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd. It’s not quite approached in the laid-back, good ol’ boy style..instead, DiConzo injects an unexpected vein of energetic physicality to his movements and overall profane-laden delivery that makes his sheriff continually entertaining....that elevates this already fun night of musical theatre into something more." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)
"Based on a true story, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas may not be the best musical ever written but it does feature some catchy tunes and lovable characters. Arizona Broadway Theatre's production features an impressive cast and lush creative elements that combine to overcome many of the flaws of this underdeveloped and anticlimactic musical. Set in the fictitious small town of Gilbert, Texas, in the 1970s, Miss Mona is the proprietress of the Chicken Ranch, the local brothel. Mona is fierce but compassionate and extremely loyal and protective of her girls. She is also loyal to the local Sheriff Ed Earl and we soon discover that they also share a romantic past. When the big city investigative TV reporter Melvin P. Thorpe threatens to expose the Chicken Ranch in an effort to protect the morals of the citizens, it threatens Mona's livelihood as well as her relationship with Ed Earle. The lively score by Carol Hall features memorable, folksy country western tunes and upbeat ballads. But the book by Larry L. King and Peter Masterson, which is based on King's investigative story about the actual Chicken Ranch, is sorely lacking in character and plot development...Fortunately, the ABT production plays up the romance between Mona and Ed Earle, which helps give some shading to their characters, and features an exceptional cast and superb choreography by Kurtis W. Overby, which help bring plenty of showbiz razzle dazzle to the proceedings. Director Andy Meyers, who also is a hoot as Thorpe, does his best to try to make some sense of the minimal plot. He draws fun portrayals from his cast, with the female ensemble making each of Mona's girls a distinctive character. ...Cassandra Norville Klaphake isn't just all business as Mona, but also projects a motherly love for these young women. Her earthy voice interjects feeling into her songs. Mark DiConzo is a comic joy as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, adding "good old boy" ticks and mannerisms to his stage movement and a deep Texas cadence to his vocal delivery. It all adds up to a very funny portrayal. ....Meyers and Overby create several showstopping moments ...By playing up the romance between the leads, which adds heart and heat to the production, and clarifying a few things with wise directorial choices, ABT's production does what it can to sidestep the flaws in the original book. With a very good cast and some impressive choreography, the end result is a high energy, extremely professional production that provides a fun, nostalgic look back. Just try not to pay too much attention to the lack of plot developments." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)
"Arizona Broadway Theatre's presentation of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,"...made for rip-roaring, musical dinner theatre last night. Fast-paced and innocently scandalous, the evening whisked by with winks, romps and stomps...the central conflict ...involved the confrontation of morally gray, profitable tradition with present-day government stirred up by news media. Headed by working girl turned countrified Madam, Miss Mona, and the well-intentioned, old-fashioned Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd who is sweet on her, the story and a number of fiddling, fun songs unfolded like a rigged poker game....Cassandra Klaphake starred as Miss Mona. With a rich lower register, her speaking and singing voice lent themselves very well to Miss Mona's tender, maternal side. She and Sheriff Ed Earl (Mark DiConzo) had a cute rapport which made for crowd titters and even a few misty eyes near the end, during Dodd's "Good Old Girl" number. Director Andy Meyers played a powerful Melvin P. Thorpe, the show's overeager evangelical watchdog news reporter. His flamboyant character was the undoing of the Chicken Ranch as well as a lively production jump-start when he and his back up ensemble entered.... Chanel Bragg who played housekeeper Jewel at the Chicken Ranch. Her "Twenty Four Hours of Lovin" electrified the 'boarding house's' soft lighting as she single-handedly powered the stage and inspired the working girls to join in....That Texas, and now Arizona, has a whorehouse in it is far less criminal, and far more enjoyable, than the darn sensational media mongrels would have us believe. On this particular ABT brothel--with a tasty dinner and drinks to boot, it is money well spent." -Jennifer Haaland, Examiner.com (click here to read the complete review)
"...Arizona Broadway Theatre’s current production is polished and fun with a crackerjack cast of singing actors. Cassandra Norville Klaphake stars as “don’t call me a” madam Miss Mona, showing off her solid silver pipes...But the biggest laughs are earned by Mark DiConzo as the crooked sheriff with aw-shucks charm and Andy Meyers (who also directs) as the proto-televangelist Melvin P. Thorpe...Renée Kathleen Koher as the deeper-than-she-seems Doatsy Mae and Chanel Bragg as the fiery housekeeper, Jewel...this local star’s big, bluesy belting always transcends stereotypes. She’s a jewel indeed....." - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)
"Yeehaw! Arizona Broadway Theatre blows the roof off the THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS with a non-stop hit parade of Lone Star big star moments. Leading the pack is Cassandra Norville Klaphake as Miss Mona, the madam of the legendary brothel that inspired Carol Hall, Larry King, and Peter Masterson to pen the tale of tricks and treats. Klaphake delivers a commanding performance as the mother hen who guards her coop with a righteous blend of good business sense and sentimentality. She has to be on guard as the forces of morality inveigh against her enterprising ways....Doing double duty as the show's director (well done!) and as Melvin P. Thorpe, the ultra showman reporter (Zindler incarnate), Andy Meyers parades across the stage with panache in high rolling song and swivel toed dance....Mark DiConzo is Texas gold as the reluctant enforcer of the law, Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, with a fancy for Miss Mona. Kurtis Overby's choreography is splendid and exhilarating...ABT's production is a rousing affair featuring one heck of a gold star ensemble. And it ends with Ms. Klaphake closing out with a tear-inducing rendition of I Will Always Love You ~ and for that and for the rest of the show, who can't help but love THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS." -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)