August must be Beef & Boards’ risqué month. A year ago, they produced a saucy rendition of Cabaret, and now they are having a naughty good time with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.
While B&B can lean towards the zany-cheesy in its shows, here the craziness is always kept in check. The musical is a comedy for sure, but director Douglas E. Stark lets his cast handle the material in a more natural fashion, which makes it even funnier than if they had pushed hard for laughs.
The best examples are leads Grace Sell as Miss Mona and James Anthony as Sheriff Ed Earl. Sell plays her part as a born leader — even if it is as the leader of a whorehouse. Her strength is the defining element of her character, and Sell always keeps that trait in the forefront. Anthony, who has the majority of the funny lines (as well as the cussin’), never eggs it on and never becomes a shallow caricature that merely spurts strings of obscenities. Instead, Anthony inhabits a real person, and an inherently funny one at that.
Vocally, the whole cast does a rock-solid job, but a special note needs to be made of Cynthia Tomas as Jewel, who performs an especially sexy “Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin’.”
Choreography, by Doug King, also takes a restrained turn here by B&B standards — it’s successful, and suggestive. “20 Fans” lets you know that this is a whorehouse and sex happens here, dammit. While some of the older B&B regulars might take offence, I think it’s great that B&B is willing to blow the dust off a show like this and keep it in-your-face. Another great segment of choreography is the tap-dancing-in-cowboy-boots football players in “The Aggie Song,” another line-crosser for B&B, with men tapping shirtless and changing clothes on stage.
Speaking of clothes, Brian Horton (who also gets a cute turn as the governor in “The Sidestep”) gets Mona’s girls all gussied up in a rainbow of lingerie, and interesting gowns for Mona herself. Scenic designer Michael Layton uses a rotating stage that effectively and quickly eases us from scene to scene.
In all, this is a really good rendition of Whorehouse, worth checking out. It continues through Sept. 23. Tickets range from $32.50-$52.50 and include the buffet and show. For tickets, call B&B, 9301 N. Michigan Road, at 317-872-9664 or visit www.beefandboards.com.