It's a wonder what 27 "goddamn"s can do. Repeated use of that curse got the Conroe, TX community theatre production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas cancelled, causing theatre folk to shake their heads in wonder. But Houston's Alley Theatre isn't willing to let the production die.
Under the new company, Montgomery County Theatre Project, the cast, crew and director of the Conroe Whorehouse will reband for a one-night benefit concert version of the musical comedy, held at the Alley Theatre June 10. Funds from the Whorehouse performance will be used to remount the show the way it was written — with all 27 "goddamn"s intact.
Tickets to the Alley benefit are $25-$50. For reservations, call (713) 228-8421.
In late April, the Houston Chronicle reported the Crighton Players board decided to cancel the show when the cast abandoned the production, replacing it with Pump Boys and Dinettes. The director of the community theatre staging said removing profanities from the script would undermine the authors' vision, although he apparently agreed to take out the "F" word and keep the "goddamns." He quit after refusing the board's order to strike the latter word, which is used repeatedly in the script. 32 of 38 performers also quit the show.
Productions of licensed scripts can only be changed with the permission of the licensing publisher (in this case, Samuel French) or authors (the 1979 Broadway hit was penned by Larry L. King, Peter Masterson and Carol Hall).
A revised national tour of the musical has been touring the country for more than a year with Ann-Marget in the lead of Miss Mona, a sensible madam who runs a Texas brothel where there's "nothin' dirty goin' on." The tour ends May 15.
The musical has aroused outrage since it first appeared in New York City. Billboards and broadcast commercials were considered too racy 25 years ago and have been challenged in some cities in the past year. Songwriter Carol Hall previously told Playbill On-Line she wasn't thrilled when New York City buses were plastered with the slogan "Have Fun at the Whorehouse," during the original run. "I'm embarrassed by that — was then, and I am now," Hall said in 2001. "I had two kids, I wouldn't have wanted to see that at the bus stop."
The musical is inspired a real-life brothel in Texas, which King wrote about in an article for Playboy.
— By Christine Ehren
and Kenneth Jones