Actors in the ensemble of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” perform “superbly choreographed dancing totally in step with each other,” writes critic Cissy Lacks. Credit: Liz Lauren

It’s raucous. It’s bawdy. It’s sexy.

It is Theo Ubique’s production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

The cast has a lot of fun with it and so does the audience, as country music, song and dance fill the intimate venue.

Most people are familiar with the musical’s story. Dolly Parton made it famous.

There’s a whorehouse in Texas, better known as the Chicken Farm because when customers don’t have the money to pay for services, chickens are accepted.

But they aren’t called customers. “We call them guests, not johns and not customers,” Miss Mona, the owner of the chicken ranch instructs her newcomers.

“And there’s no kissin’ on the lips,” she adds. “This ain’t no prom night.”

These women service the community. Even the high school football team gets made after its last game. 

Laura Quinones, from left, Quinn Simmons, Cynthia F. Carter, Anne Sheridan Smith and Michaela Shapiro face down a threat at “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” which runs through Jan. 29 at Theo Ubique. Credit: Liz Lauren

Theo Ubique’s production takes the original focus of the musical and adds some contemporary perspectives. 

It doesn’t just bend genders, mix ethnicities and show off different body types. It pulls them apart like taffy, with the audience chewing on what’s in front of them, and all the while the performers are singing, dancing and hooting up a storm.

While hypocrisy was always integral to the show, this production hypes it up.

Director Landree Fleming explains in her notes: “We’re going to entertain the boots off y’all and pay homage to the world’s oldest profession, while artfully navigating and shining a light on society’s penchant for cyclical, hypocritical witch hunts.”

Entertain the boots off us is precisely what this production does.

The five-piece band, fiddle and all, is terrific. 

The ensemble of actors, switching roles from Chicken Farm employees to hypocritical city officials, engages us completely in their antics. Best of all, they perform their superbly choreographed dancing totally in step with each other. As a chorus, they deliver too.

Anne Sheridan Smith plays Miss Mona in the Theo Ubique production of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” Credit: Liz Lauren

Then we have the main characters. Anne Sheridan Smith is a wonderful Miss Mona. It’s not easy to be a madam and also the beloved Miss Mona, mistress of the house. Her strong voice and healthy swagger enhance her portrayal. 

Miss Jewel (Cynthia F. Carter) can belt out a song. Her song, “Well you ain’t lyin,” brings down the house. She has 24 hours off. She’s the manager of the Chicken Farm. And she sings to the women about meeting her man in town: “I have 24 hours of love and I’m givin’ it away for free.”

That the two women have been together at the Chicken Farm for years adds a personal touch that takes them beyond what could be stereotypical roles.

Marc Prince as Sheriff Dodd, left, confronts news anchor David Blakeman in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” at Theo Ubique. Credit: Liz Lauren

Then we have the hypocrites: the watchdog news anchor (David Blakeman) and the Governor/Senator/Mayor, all played by Teddy Gales.  

The watchdog anchor stirs the pot. He’s going to have the Chicken Farm closed down. He riles people up with his song, “Texas Has a Whorehouse in it.” Blakeman is hysterically ridiculous in the role, a lot of fun to watch and listen to.

Teddy Gales plays an array of hypocritical politicians in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” at Theo Ubique. Credit: Liz Lauren

The elected officials, frequent guests of the Chicken Farm, are Mr. Hypocrites. Again, Gales overplays the parts with just the right amount of silliness. Just like Blakeman, his delivery is terrific.

For an evening of rollicking fun, this production has it all. Add the music, the song, the dance and a little bit of naughtiness, and the audience is in for quite an evening,

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas plays though Jan. 29, 2023, at Theo Ubique, 721 Howard St. A pre-show meal can be ordered for an extra charge.

For tickets and information, visit www.theo-u.com or call 773-939-4101.

Cissy Lacks

Cissy Lacks is a writer, photographer and retired teacher who writes theater reviews for the Evanston RoundTable. Bio information is at cissylacks.com. She can be reached at cissy@evanstonroundtable.com.

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