Friday, April 1, 2011

Flops! - The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public

#4 in my Flop Musical Series

I guess a Musical Theatre Primer would have a chapter about not attempting to make a sequel to a smash show.    Bring Back Birdie, Annie Warbucks and even the recent Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies, didn't get good reviews or exactly catch fire at the box office. But still original director Tommy Tune, original composer Carol Hall and original book writers Larry L. King and Peter Masterson came together in 1994 to create a sequel to their hit 1978 show The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

The story of The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public tells how madam Mona Stangley, owner of the Chicken Ranch brothel in the original Whorehouse musical, is asked by the government to come out of retirement to take over a Las Vegas brothel to recover millions in back taxes owed by the former owner.  Mona enlists the aid of a former boyfriend who has the idea to take the establishment public and sale shares on the New York stock exchange, which of course doesn't sit well with some people including a high powered, right wing Senator.  (The Playbill to the right was designed to look like a piece of stock.)

If you know the story of the original Whorehouse, you can see that the story of the sequel is somewhat similar to that one in which Mona runs a Texas brothel, has a relationship with the local sheriff whom looks the other way so the business can flourish but comes to the attention of a news reporter on a mission to close the place down.

The show opened on May 10, 1994 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, where it ran for 16 performances.  The reviews were pretty ugly, commenting on the lurid nature of the choreography, the garish sets and the over the top glitz of the production.  One number that got particularly bad comments was the second act song, "Call Me" which had various scantily clad girls incased in see through plexiglass boxes taking phone sex calls from men who were on top of the boxes in various stages of undress. Toward the end of the song, with the men practically only in their underwear, they gave us this lyric "no one hears and no one sees, it's boring in my BVD's."  Not exactly a Tommy Tune showstopper, or at least a showstopper in a good way.  

I had the pleasure of seeing a preview of the show, and while it wasn't quite in the "it's so bad it's good" category I did remember liking a few of the Hall songs and was impressed by Dee Hoty (below) who played Mona.  Hoty previously starred in the Tune directed hit show The Will Rogers Follies three year before and was also Tony nominated for both shows, her Tony nomination for this show was the only one it got.  I also loved how Hoty came out for her curtain call on a horse.  

I believe this show has the distinction of having the first (and the last) infomercial for a Broadway show that highlighted the glitz of the production, including the Bob Mackie costumes and the redesign of the Lunt Fontanne theatre.  

Even though the show only ran for two weeks after it opened, fortunately a cast recording was made as there are a few good songs in the score, and the cast does give it's all. Recommended songs include "It's Been A While," "Change In Me" and "A Piece of the Pie."

Amazon link for the Original Cast Recording -Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public

Amazon link for the Original Cast Recording of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas - The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas: Original Cast

Amazon link for libretto for The Best Little Whoreshouse Goes Public - The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public (A Musical Play)

Tony performance from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas -

The Aggie Song from the film of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas -

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