The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
While former mayor Oscar Goodman dreamed of a revitalization of the downtown Las Vegas area (and apparently his own steakhouse which is also now located at The Plaza) the beautiful updated Plaza is featuring in its main showroom (produced by SFS Productions) "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas," which proves to only revitalize the notion that theatre (like most things) should be left to the professionals.
To paraphrase one of the songs in the show, "Just lots of good will, not even one small thrill cause there’s nothing entertain’ goin’ on!" This production of "Best Little Whorehouse In Texas" is exactly what you think of when you hear (or in this case read) the words, "community theater."
The show begins with a video of the cast names and production credits for the show, as most roles are double cast both names appear but there are no pictures so unless you do some digging you won’t know who you saw in the show (but maybe it’s sort of an actor witness protection program based on the performances).
More shocking than the generic credits on the two screens on either side of the stage is when suddenly the movie version of the show appears with Jim Nabors speaking. Opening shots of the movie appear until, with a jarring edit to black on the screens, lights come up on the stage set that seems only a cast member’s father could have designed, built, and furnished with thrift store furniture.
As an elderly, too-tanned man (don’t know which of the actors I saw but I’m sure he was the more tan of the two who play it) comes down the center stairs with a big guitar with the word "Elvis" on it faking strumming, he tells us the story of the Whorehouse.
Unfortunately, the canned music has the presence of a transistor radio from the kitchen and the vocals on the tape don’t help the proceedings (neither do the headset mics which are so large that the cast looks as though they’re also working the ’drive thru’ while performing). While the "Narrator" has a decent voice, I found myself thinking this was going to be a long night with no happy ending for the audience...and I was right.
Enter Jacquelyn Holland Wright as "Miss Mona" who has so much Vegas showgirl makeup on that it’s hard to see any of her acting through the six pairs of lashes and a Rita Hayworth type wig that looks like it was mass produced in the 1940’s, recently found in a thrift store, and shoved on her head unwashed.
She’s a good singer, has great credits but someone needs to tell her she’s doing theater in a small showroom and doesn’t need Vegas showgirl makeup but actual stage makeup to enhance not cover her performance.
Ron Smith is a strong presence with a good voice as the "Sheriff" but you have to wonder why he’s always directed to play everything to the audience so much that he probably doesn’t know what the rest of the cast looks like (as he never looks at them when speaking).
The featured roles of "Jewel," "Watchdog Melvin P. Thorpe," the "Senator" and the "Governor" could be gems but aren’t in these actors’ hands, it looks as though the director just told them to watch the movie and "do that" for direction.
The "girls" in the show come in all shapes and sizes and are all forgettable. The men in the show look like high school boys who are too small to have ever played football, as their characters are supposed to. When they take off their shirts they’re thin with soft middles (which is usually only good when it comes to Godiva chocolate). Neither the choreography nor direction helps either group or the show.
"Whorehouse" at The Plaza is certain to meet the same demise as the Whorehouse in this show. It will be closed down, not because of people caring what’s going on there but rather not caring and not filling the seats.
I don’t care how much money the producers (presumably) are paying or how likeable they seemed in their curtain speeches, they obviously know nothing about producing theater. One has to wonder how the head of entertainment at The Plaza is going to keep his job. So allow me to do that job for you (whoever you are): If you want to bring theater into The Plaza, bring a good production company in to produce something like "Smokey Joe’s Café" or a smaller show with a great songbook to which people can respond. Or build a cult following like a "Forever Plaid." Just don’t stage a community theater production that is cringe-worthy even by community theater standards.
"The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" enjoys and extended run at The Plaza Hotel & Casino, 1 Main Street in Las Vegas. For info or tickets, call 702-946-8934, 800-793-9332, or visit https://shop.prestigeticketing.com/plazashowroom/store.jsp#ceShop.