The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas


The Theatre Guild committee were delighted to present The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas as our 2007 production. Based on the life and times of the real “Chicken Ranch” and made famous by the 1982 movie starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds this fun, tongue-in-cheek musical was brimming with energetic dance routines, rousing chorus numbers and beautiful ballads. The ‘bawdy’ title didn’t put our audience off as the club sold 82% of the available seats! Feedback was universally positive with the show achieving a ‘5 STAR’ rating on review website Cast members will fondly remember a very happy show featuring revealing costumes, outrageous characters and “Peanut Delight” candy bars! This was the show where Stage Manager, Tess Byrne, regularly called for “The Ladies of the Ranch” and younger members of the backstage crew didn’t know where to look!



The best bordello in Texas dated back to 1915, when Jessie Williams purchased an old farmhouse on 12 acres on the border of La Grange, where it existed in harmony with the law and local citizens for nearly 50 years. During the Depression, the girls traded services for farm goods and livestock. So many chickens were received that hen houses were set up for poultry and egg production – hence the name Chicken Ranch. In 1960 Edna Milton purchased the property from Miss Jessie’s estate and did a first-class remodelling job. It was under Miss Edna’s direction that the house of prostitution reached its greatest fame. In 1973 Marvin Zindler, a Houston TV newsman, mounted a campaign to close the Chicken Ranch. Jim Flournoy, former Texas Ranger and country sheriff since 1946, cited charitable work, saved marriages, and local acceptance and refused to close it. Zindler directed his TV attack on the Governor, who called Sheriff Jim. He in turn placed the call that quietly ended the Chicken Ranch’s 58-year history.


This happy-go-lucky view of small-town vice and state-wide political side-stepping recounts the good times and the demise of the Chicken Ranch, known since the 1850s as one of the better pleasure palaces in all of Texas. The rural community of Gilbert has long tolerated, secretly relished, and certainly patronised Miss Mona’s cosy homelike bordello. Governors, senators, mayors, and even victorious college football teams-sponsored by an alumnus-frequented the Chicken Ranch until that puritan nemesis Watchdog focused his television cameras and righteous indignation on the institution.

Shy and Amber arrive at Chicken Ranch knowing full well what goes on there. They’ve been used, had hard luck, and are lonely. They confide to Miss Mona that they have never done anything professional but plead for the chance to get some money together for a fresh start. Mona is taken with their honesty, hires them on, and sees to their training. She can use the extra help for the upcoming Texas Aggies/ Longhorn football-game party. The alumni associates of each school traditionally treat the winners of the annual rivalry to a night of frolicking at the Ranch. Some important political and business leaders are involved, too. (Miss Mona always has the right people to call on for advice).

Things are pretty much as they have been for 58 years-until Melvin P. Thorpe, a Houston TV reporter and do-gooder, sets out to spoil everybody’s fun. His Watchdog exposés do little to prompt Sheriff Dodd to close the Chicken Ranch. In fact, when Melvin visits the Ranch, Sheriff Dodd runs him off. It seems there is a romantic interest between the sheriff and Mona. In retaliation, Melvin raids the Ranch with his camera crew. The surprise visit proves embarrassing for all the above. Chicken Ranch is now too public to remain open in face of the state law against prostitution. Melvin P. Thorpe wins again. The girls ponder their futures as they await the bus from Amarillo. Mona and Sheriff Dodd pause for a moment of nostalgia before locking up after the girls have gone.

Click HERE to download our Director’s Brief Plot Synopsis (.pdf). Click HERE to download our Director’s Detailed Plot Synopsis (.pdf).




Athenaeum Theatre
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, 100 Renfrew Street
G2 3DB
United Kingdom
Get Directions



Narrator Cameron Lowe
Angel Sharon Cartwright
Shy Linn van der Zanden
Mona Stangley Karen Herbison
Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd John Woods
Jewel Nicola Coffield
Melvin P. Thorpe Robert Kirkham
Doatsey Mae Catherine Mackenzie
Mayor Rufus Colin McGowan
Bob Silver (Announcer) Jon Cuthbertson
Imogene Charlene Lindsay McCourt
Governor David Sturgeon
Edith Laura Thomson
CJ David McCurrach
Senator Wingwoah Les Hooper
“The Girls”: Adele Simpson
Caroline Patterson
Christine Donaldson
Karen Brown
Lisa Dutch
Moira McLeod
Norma Fingland
Susan Bedford
Suzanne Lowe
Victoria Ridyard
“The Dogettes” Gill Gilmour
Louise McMurray
Lorna Templeton
Rachael Hepburn
David Brown
David Fingland
Les Hooper
Jim Potter
Thorpe Singers Bobby Allan
Karen Brock
Jon Cuthbertson
Hamish Fingland
Susan Kennedy
Emma Lindsay
Cameron Lowe
Catherine Mackenzie
Ian MacLeod
Lindsay McCourt
David McCurrach
Campbell McDougall
Karen McDougall
Colin McGowan
Louise Munro
Chris Potter
David Sturgeon
Laura Thomson
Melanie Todd
Angelettes Gill Gilmour
Emma Lindsay
Lindsay McCourt
Lorna Templeton



Production Team
Artistic Director Mark Ridyard
Musical Director Julie Ballantyne
Choreographer Jonathan Parsons
Rehearsal Pianist Carol Hannigan
Stage Director Ian Purves
Stage Manager Tess Byrne
Properties Eleanor Wilkins
Wardrobe Christine Hooper
Prompt Dorothy Bedford
Professional Services
Set The Border Studio, Selkirk
Costume Utopia Costumes, Dundee
Sound John Ewing Sound



Song list:

  • Prologue – Solo Girl Singer, The Rio Grande Band
  • 20 Fans – Mona Stangley & Ensemble
  • A Lil Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place – Mona Stangley, the Girls
  • Girl You’re a Woman – Mona Stangley, Shy, Jewel, the Girls
  • Watch Dog Theme – Melvin P. Thorpe, Dogettes
  • Texas Has a Whorehouse in It – Melvin P. Thorpe, Thorpe Singers, Dogettes
  • Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin’ – Jewel, the Girls
  • Watchdog Theme (reprise) – The Dogettes
  • Texas Has a Whorehouse in It (reprise) – Melvin P. Thorpe & Ensemble
  • Doatsey Mae – Doatsy Mae
  • Angelette March – Imogene Charlene, Angelettes
  • The Aggie Song – The Aggies
  • The Sidestep – The Governer & Ensemble
  • No Lies – Mona Stangley, Jewel, the Girls
  • Good Ole Girl – Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, the Aggies
  • Hard Candy Christmas – Amber, Linda Lou, Ginger, Ruby Rae, Beatrice
  • Hard Candy Christmas (reprise) – The Girls
  • Bus from Amarillo – Mona Stangley
  • Finale – The Company

Click HERE to download our list of Musical Numbers (.pdf).