Megan Wojtak, in the lead role as brothel owner Mona, sings the opening number in the Haylofters production of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” The show opens Thursday and runs for 10 performances. (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Haylofters to sing about brothel’s downfall

By Ed Nadolski

Editor in Chief

The title and the topic may be risqué, but the show itself is full of fun and music, Director Pamela Schroeder says of the Haylofters upcoming production of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

The show, which peaked in popularity in the late 1970s and early ‘80s with a Broadway run and a movie starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, tells the story of Texas’ infamous Chicken Ranch – a rural brothel that coexisted with the community and local law enforcement for 58 years until a muckraking television reporter convinced hypocritical state politicians to shut it down.

“With whorehouse in the title, it’s not a family show,” Schroeder said. “But it’s not pornographic. First and foremost it’s a comedy.

“This is a fun show,” she said. “It’s one a lot of people have wanted to do for a long time.”

The 10-show run is slated to open July 12 and run two weekends through July 22. All performances are at the Malt House Theater, 109 Main St., Burlington.

Rose Pinter leads the audience reaction during a scene in the Haylofters production of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” (Photo by Ed Nadolski)

Evening performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on July 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 and 21, and matinee shows are set for 2:30 p.m. on July 14, 15, 21 and 22. Tickets are $13 each for opening night and $15 each for all other performances. They may be purchased online at brownpapertickets.com or at the Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.

With a 28-member cast and a full pit band – a rarity for Malt House Theater shows – Schroeder said the production has been working to overcome the logistical challenges of the relatively small confines.

“The people we are working with are wonderful,” she said. “Costumes have been tough because of the number of people and the number of changes.”

Several of the cast members play multiple roles, which requires some pinpoint backstage choreography in addition to the dance steps displayed under the spotlights, Schroeder said.

The nine-member pit band, under the direction of Burlington High School teacher Colin Galitz, features instruments ranging from strings to horns. The band plays in cramped quarters at the back of the theater and the music is piped through the theater’s sound system, according to band member Carrie Fidler, another BHS teacher.

As with any musical, what makes or breaks the show is the voices.

“I’m very pleased with this cast,” Schroeder said. “I have some remarkable voices.”

Holding down the lead roles are Megan Wojtak, who plays Miss Mona, the proprietor of the Chicken Ranch; Matt Hoye, who plays Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd; and John Roberts as Melvin P. Thorpe, the watchdog TV reporter who sets out to close the Chicken Ranch in the name of righteous ratings.

The cast is rounded out by a varied roster of actors, singers and dancers who bring a wide spectrum of experience and talent to the production, Schroeder said.

For a full cast list see the July 5 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.

If you go…

What: Haylofter’s production of the musical “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”

When: July 12-15 and 19-22; evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m.

Where: Malt House Theater, 109 Main St., Burlington

Tickets: $13 for opening night; $15 for all other shows; available at Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine or online at brownpapertickets.com

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