THERE are those of a nervous disposition in the audience at Leighton Buzzard Theatre who are likely to still be traumatised by the sight of four male bare bottoms mooning on stage and more than a few pulses racing faster from seeing a group of nine scantily clad girls thrusting and grinding in stockings and suspenders.
Amateur dramatics took a whole new direction this week with the opening of Leighton Masqueraders’ The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.
Just the controversial title was enough to prompt someone to run off with one of the group’s advertising banners from a railing in Linslade. Was the town ready for a bordello opening up for a limited engagement above the town’s library?
Despite the subject matter this was a production that provided plenty of laughs and only a restricted amount of titillation (this is not, after all, Soho). And, despite the over-indulgence of luscious blondes, a certain innocence.
The Larry L King story came out in the mid 1970s and, far from being a seedy and squalid look at life on a genuine Texas Chicken Ranch (where some of the punters paid in fowl rather than dollars) it was sugar-coated for the masses and went on to win awards on Broadway. There followed a film starring Dolly Parton as the brothel madam, Miss Mona, who, voluptuous figure excluded, is as wholesome as apple pie.
The whorehouse in question had been satisfying customers for years until it falls under the spotlight of a righteous, Bible-thumping, television watchdog who campaigns to have the premises closed down.
The furore puts some of the townsfolk, particularly the mayor and sheriff, in a fix because they also happen to avail themselves of the girls’ services.
The mother hen rules her roost with kindness and the occasional country-style song while the girls parade in a series of raunchy outfits, drape themselves over the menfolk and await new customers.
It was probably The Masqueraders’ most ambitious production to date and tested the players’ skills to the max. And while they deserve ten out of ten for producing a fun musical pretty much the whole cast scored a lowly one or two for their American accents.
Star of the show Vanessa Vass (as Miss Mona) held the whole story together with a strong vocal performance that was matched by her nemesis, husband Tim as TV firebrand Melvin P Thorpe. But one of the most poignant moments came when the sheriff, Ed Earl Dodd, (Tony White) sang the solo Good Old Girl. It received huge and much deserved applause.
It would have been good to have heard more from The Girls who worked at the ranch. A lot of their dialogue was delivered too quietly to clearly understand due to limited mics and they were only given brief solo slots in one song (Hard Candy Christmas) which revealed that some of them had pretty good voices.
Waitress Doatsy Mae’s bone dry wit served alongside the coffee and waffles gave Emma Whalley a memorable cameo in a cracking musical that pushed back a few boundaries and raised the game for am-dram in Leighton.