Working girls: The female cast during rehearsals.
Working girls: The female cast during rehearsals.

The chorus songs in the all-local cast of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas were really top notch on Wednesday night.

From the first group song 20 Fans, to the glitzy signature tune Texas Has a Whorehouse In It, to the well-loved Aggie Song, these guys and girls put on a real star performance.

The Gilbert and Sullivan production which runs at City Hall Theatre until ­October 16, was a no holds barred barrel of laughs from start to finish with some hilarious one liners and a back story that pulled at the heart strings. The fact that it is based on a true story makes it even more entertaining.

The 27-strong cast has had internationally ­acclaimed direction from musical director Dan Jackson and director Jenny Sawyer — their standards are high and it shows.

The musical tells the ­story of a whorehouse  which is threatened with closure when TV ­reporter Melvin Thorpe turns the community against it. The owner Miss Mona isn’t too worried as she has plenty of “special relationships” with the police, politicians and other men in high places. But the God fearing folk of Gilbert, Texas don’t seem to be letting up this time.

Actress Kelly Sousa as the youngest working girl Shy, played her part brilliantly with effortless ­humour. Only her second performance in Bermuda since she moved to the ­island three years ago, she is a breath of fresh air. ­Veteran of the local stage Denise Whitter made a powerful entrance onto stage with her rendition of Twenty Four Hours of ­Lovin’. Though his time on stage was relatively brief, Ed Christopher as the ­governor went down a treat — his stage presence is ­immense and the crowd loved every minute.

Originally on Broadway, the show was later made into a film starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds. Dolly is a hard act to follow as the loveable, headstrong whorehouse owner Miss Mona. Nancy Thompson did a good job most of the time — not only did she look the part, she managed to pull off the loveable, tart with a heart character. A couple of the songs, though, didn’t see to have her whole heart in them. Phillip Jones was hilarious as the ego-driven reporter Melvin Thorpe.

The props, sets and ­notably the costumes shone in this production. The characters looked every bit the part — the wardrobe ­appeared up to movie standards from cowboy boots to cowboy hats. Costume ­director Vaughan Sullivan, along with her team ­Andrew Stoneham and Vikkie Vaughan-Jones brought this to life and helped make the characters wholly believable — even if the occasional slack Texas ­accent did the opposite.

Musical director Dan Jackson did a great job with his small band consisting of only a few instruments and Mr. Jackson himself on the piano. While the all singing all dancing cast often overwhelmed the band — it really came into its own with some of the more genuine, old country style numbers.

Set designer Cleo Pettitt was up to her usual high standards. The whorehouse itself was a full-blown porch on stilts with doors to the girls’ rooms. They were carefully veiled so you could get the slightest glimpse of what was going on behind them but never actually seeing inside.

The title having  ‘Whorehouse’ in it has put off many of the more conservative Bermudians from ­going to see it — sales are slow and the Sunday matinee has been cancelled. There really is nothing to be worried about. The name maybe off putting but it is misleading — there is no more sex and sass in this little production than there is in your average PG13 rated Hollywood blockbuster. As one of the show’s song goes: ‘There’s lots of good will, maybe one small thrill and nuthin’ dirty ­going on”.

It would be a shame if the premise of a whorehouse ends up making this show anything other than a ­success in Bermuda. It’s about women who have found themselves with nowhere else to turn but have found themselves a family who they love and care for — and with the standard of all the ­elements mentioned above, it’s the best little production Bermuda has seen in some time. 

The show continues every evening except ­Sunday at City Hall Theatre until October 16. Shows start at 8pm.