The real-life TV reporter who helped shutter the infamous Houston-area brothel known as the Chicken Ranch -- the inspiration for the musical, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas -- will attend the July 16 opening of the musical at the Country Playhouse, a Houston community theatre.
Marvin Zindler, who helped expose the brothel and its links to Texas celebrities and officials, is still active and on the air on KTRK-TV in Houston some 30 years after becoming a celebrity for shining light on the brothel. He and a group of his colleagues from KTRK-TV (where he is known as Action 13) will attend the show and be introduced.
Zindler is represented in the Larry L. King-Peter Masterson-Carol Hall musical as "Melvin P. Thorpe," a flamboyant reporter in flashy suits and a silver wig who is a moral and consumer "watchdog" for a TV station. In real-life, Zindler is known for his big voice, toupee, white suits and sunglasses. Scott Kilgore plays the role at the Country Playhouse.
Show spokesman M.G. Perez told Playbill On-Line Zindler, who is thought to be in his late seventies, is "a Houston institution" who began as a news reporter but became the station's consumer reporter following the Chicken Ranch expose in the early 1970s.
Christopher Ayres directs the production, which continues to Aug. 21 at the Country Playhouse, 12802 Queensbury in the Town & Country Village Shopping Mall. The troupe had a big hit with Whorehouse 10 years ago. Call (713) 467-4497 for information.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas originally opened in the 1978 79 season, directed and choreographed by Tommy Tune. Carlin Glynn and Henderson Forsythe won featured-performer Tony Awards for the show, but Hall's country-rich score failed to pick up a nomination despite such tunes as "Doatsy Mae," "Bus from Amarillo" and "Hard-Candy Christmas." Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds starred in the film version, which included songs penned by Parton.
-- By Kenneth Jones