Despite the racy title, or perhaps because of it, “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” opened at the Southampton Cultural Center to a weekend of packed houses.
And the cast of Michael Disher’s production proved to be up to the task of entertaining all. On Friday night they boogied, gyrated and shimmied their way into the audience’s hearts.
While not exactly family-friendly fare, the show stays true to Mr. Disher’s tradition of classiness over trashiness. Which is exactly the way that Miss Mona runs her whorehouse.
The lead and absolute standout performer of the show, Valerie diLorenzo plays Miss Mona Stangley, the owner and pleasure-loving proprietress of the house. She plays the role with such poise and professionalism she could easily be selling fine chastity belts instead of, well, you know.
The powerhouse singer also knows when to rein it in, specifically in her showstopping song, “I Will Always Love You.” As it has been sung by icons such as Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston, expectations were high, as was the possibility of letdown, but the tears rolling down this reviewer’s face at the end proved that Ms. diLorenzo did it more than justice.
Another standout was the set design by Richard Keys, which brilliantly answered the question of how this huge cast of players could fit on the tiny stage at the Southampton Cultural Center. Four staircases were utilized to accentuate each of Ms. diLorenzo’s girls’ best features—legs draped over rails, arms stretched out and inviting, sly smiles and winks were shot from between the railings.
The lovely ladies of the house, particularly, showed off Mr. Disher’s exquisite taste in costuming as they traipsed in lingerie and glided across the stage in gowns. Considering the subject matter, almost everyone was costumed just right, leaving enough to the imagination to keep it fun.
Other memorable performances came from the Sheriff, played by Daniel Becker, and Doatsy Mae, a waitress played by Linda Aydinian. Each made the most of his or her solos and expressed the pain and regret at missed opportunity and hope for the future in a truly touching way. The evangelically obnoxious pastor, Melvin P. Thorpe, played by Bill Kitzerow, was an absolutely hysterical parody of know-it-all Christian crusaders. Even though he had the law on his side, he was slimy enough to keep us rooting for the madams of the night.
The show-stopping dance came from the football playin’ Texas Aggie boys. Six dapper men in cowboy boots and big ol’ Texas belt buckles stomped and do-si-doed in perfect time. Their cheerleader counterparts foreshadow the dance, but the men were so animated and vivacious that they really stole the show.
Overall, the cast filled the stage with energy and fun. Even the background characters’ reactions during scenes made the audience roar. Additionally, the production also boasted very clever technical work, which allowed for the incorporation of live video feeds to the televisions in the theater.
To steal a line from the show, this is “just a little bitty, piss-ant country show with nothing dirty going on.” Well, maybe a little bit dirty, but it was definitely a rip roarin’ good time!
“The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” stages through November 3, on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m., on the stage of The Levitas Center for the Arts at the Southampton Cultural Center. General admission is $25 and student rate (under 21 with ID) is $12. Group rates are also available. Reservations are encouraged. For tickets, call 287-4377 or visit scc-arts.org.