Originally created 02/03/05

Whorehouse' cast has fun with adult theme



The Imperial Theatre has a whorehouse in it.

On Friday, the Augusta Players open a production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, bringing the world's oldest profession to Augusta's oldest theater.

The comic musical, about a house of ill repute, the crusader who wants to see it closed and the small- town sheriff who champions the working women, is loosely based on events that occurred in and around LaGrange, Texas, in 1973.

"It's a lot of fun," said Richard Belles, who plays Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd in the production. "It's a lot more fun to do than the standard fare. I mean, it's an adult musical, we're adults and that makes it fun to do."

Although the piece has been toned down for the Augusta audience, with some of the stronger language excised, thematically the piece remains very adult in nature.

"It's true, but I don't think the naughtiness is played up as much as the fun," said Cheryl Pickard, who plays Jewell, the second-in-command at the bordello known simply as the Chicken Ranch. "Really, there's not much that's offensive about it, unless you're offended by the occasional naughty word and some innuendo."

Dolly Morris, who plays the Chicken Ranch madame, Miss Mona, said the idea of playing a character involved in prostitution did give her pause.

"I was very hesitant about doing the role," she admitted. "I do believe there are group dynamics in society that are important, and I value those things in my life. I am one of those conservative people in this town and I was worried about how this show might sell among my family and friends."

Ms. Morris said, in the end, it was the message Whorehouse delivers that convinced her to join the cast. She said more than prostitution, the play revolves around living with decisions and the forces that lead people down certain paths.

Mr. Belles said his response was just the opposite. He was eager to join the cast and even went as far as to research the real-life lawman his role was based on.

"I looked up what he looked like and some of the stories behind this," he said. "Now, this show does fantasize the story. These characters are not those people. But I did work some of that guy into the role."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

WHERE: The Imperial Theatre, 749 Broad St.

COST: $12-$35. Call 826-4707.