Theater Info for Maryland

Phoenix Festival Theater The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas

By • Mar 14th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas
Phoenix Festival Theater: (Info) (Web)
Chesapeake Theater-Harford Community College, Bel Air, MD
Through March 17th
2:30 with intermission
$20 Adult/Youth/Senior $10
Reviewed March 9th, 2013

Phoenix Festival Theater is one lucky community theater. They have an amazing space, obviously a rich and healthy financial budget, beautiful professional lighting system, and great resources in form of talent: creative technical staff and a professional cornucopia of musicians. They take all these resources and utilize them mostly well in their current running production, the award-winning musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

A country influenced score tells the story of the “Chicken Ranch” an establishment that has been appealing to the libido of men of all ages since the Civil War. Now being lovingly run by Miss Mona (Laure Starkey) and her take no-nonsense right hand Jewel (Mellissa Broy Fortson). Things couldn’t be better since the town is fully aware and almost proud of their “national landmark.” And the local sheriff Ed Earl Dodd (Mark Briner) has been a longtime friend and love interest of Miss Mona. Well not so fast! A local TV evangelist Melvin P. Thorpe (J. Jeffrey Harrison) is determined to shut it down and restore the town to a moral state. With great dance numbers, tongue in cheek songs and good ole country ballads the show is a rock and rolling hoedown that ends on a positive and moral note.

There are many wonderful aspects in director Richard Mahoney’s production. But what the show is missing, lacks and can’t be overlooked is CLASS! Mahoney’s vision is clear, however staging less pornographic choreography, and bluntly sexual innuendoes, which were quite inappropriate at times whether you’re old or young and letting the simplicity of the subject matter guide our imagination would have been a classier and bolder choice.

Mahoney’s vision also heavily influences the performance of Starkey. Starkey definitely does an admirable job with her stern portrayal of Miss Mona, vocally nailing number after number and carrying the leading role on her shoulders, however once again that Class, the lightness and the elegance of the character was nowhere in sight. The success of this show actually lies on the shoulders of the supporting cast. Jillian Victoria (Angel) and Elisa Dugan (Shy) as the two newer additions of the brothel, give touching heartfelt performances. Victoria also shines in one of the strongest numbers in the show “Hard Candy Christmas,” which was one of the few numbers simply staged and showed the true heart of the show. Harrison, Briner, and Steve Flickinger (Governor) also shine in their respective roles and musical numbers. But the performance of Dawn Stevens (Doatsey Mae) alone is worth the price of admission. Stevens takes one of the smallest roles in the show and simply creates a masterpiece. Doatsey Mae’s song was one of the most touching and real moments I ever witnessed on a stage.

The rest of the cast especially “The Girls at Miss Mona’s” and The Aggies shine throughout the show. With creative and at times difficult choreography, they make their mark on this production, which at times was hard to swallow.


  • Rio Grande Band: Jeff Baker
  • Miss Wulla Jean: Pat Gilbert
  • Angel: Jillian Victoria
  • Shy: Elisa Dugan
  • Jewel: Mellissa Broy Fortson
  • Mona Stangley: Laurie Starkey
  • Leroy Sliney: Steve Flickinger
  • Melvin P. Thorpe: J. Jeffrey Harison
  • Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd: Mark Briner
  • Scuggs: Dave Guy
  • Mayor Rufus Poindexter: H. Ray Lawson
  • Edsel Mackey: Leonard Gilbert
  • Angelette Imogene Charlene: Carol Guarrieri
  • Senator Wingwoah: Bob Belman

The Girls At Miss Mona’s

  • Linda Lou: Natalie Knox
  • Dawn: Bevin Hensley
  • Ginger: Lizz Galley
  • Beatrice: Carissa McCool
  • Taddy Jo: Danielle Lott
  • Ruby Rae: Carol Guarrieri
  • Eloise: Jackie Kappus
  • Durla: Kelsey Yurek


  • Ray Cook, Thomas Gardner, Derrick Goodmuth, Valentino Lagano, Brad Mascari, Brandon Molle, Matt Peterson.


  • Carrie Dill, Veronica Endrik, Nickolas C. Epps, Jaime Friedel, Dominic LaFrancesca, Michelle Neal.


  • Conductor, Piano: Jeff Baker
  • Guitar: Christine MacDonald
  • Keyboard: Jill Apperson
  • Bass: Jason Willson
  • Violin: Amy Tucker
  • Percussion: Lisa Wood

Production Team

  • Company Manager/Producer: Larry Hensley
  • Director: Richard Mahoney
  • Musical Director: Jeff Baker
  • Choreographer: Kim Brueggeman
  • Technical Director: Jeff Kanyck
  • Stage Manager: Amy Jo Smith
  • Set Designer: Richard Mahoney/Jeff Kanyuck
  • Costume Designer: Wendy Snow
  • Props Manager: Eyvo Johnson
  • Lighting Designer: Josh Fieldhouse
  • Prop Firearms provided by: TRAINTECH
  • Weapons Master: Ralph R. Denton, Sr.

Disclaimer: Phoenix Festival Theater provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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worked for twenty years as a professional actor and director, as well as worked a myriad of other theatrical production roles at various levels. In recent years, he served as Artistic Director/President of STROyKA Theatre in Washington, DC. Roman privately teaches acting, voice, and piano and serves as a consultant to various groups and schools. His primary role is stay-at-home dad and full-time college student. He also directs the Voices Unlimited Youth Choir at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, MD.

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  1. Several errors were fixed in this review. We apologize for the mistakes.