Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' playing at Francis Wilson Playhouse

Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd (Rick Kistner) and Miss Mona (Cherie Albury) canoodle.

Terri Bryce Reeves | Special to the Times

Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd (Rick Kistner) and Miss Mona (Cherie Albury) canoodle.

CLEARWATER — It's a little bit raunchy but a whole lot of fun.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is now open for business at the Francis Wilson Playhouse in Clearwater. See it before they shut it down for good March 11.

The musical (book by Larry King and Peter Masterson; music and lyrics by Carol Hall) is based on a true story about a brothel called the Chicken Ranch, a nickname earned because patrons paid with poultry during the Depression.

Through spirited, boot-stompin' musical numbers, the show recounts the characters, politics, good times and final days of the bordello that existed for 58 years before a TV newsman championed its demise in the 1970s.

The original Broadway production opened in 1978 and ran for more than 1,500 performances, garnering several Tony and Drama Desk awards.

Cherie Albury plays Miss Mona, proprietor of the cathouse. She may be considered the best little actor around after accepting the part just one week before opening day. A veteran actor, board member and costumemaker for the playhouse, Albury was reupholstering a sofa when director/producer Jason Fortner recruited her to replace the original cast member who was experiencing vocal problems.

By Monday's dress rehearsal, Albury had her lines and songs down pat. "You learn a lot faster when the adrenalin kicks in," said Albury, a physical therapist by day.

Rick Kistner, 63, who has about 120 theater productions under his belt, plays Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd, who'd like their relationship to go further but can't because of his law enforcement career.

"Cherie and I first worked together 19 years ago when City Players put on Show Boat," he said. "She's doing a fantastic job. She's an old hand at this stuff and just stepped right up. She could go professional."

He's toned down his character's curse words for Francis Wilson audiences, but adult themes do persist. Fortner said the show is suitable for PG-13 audiences.

Tim Rankin sparkles — literally — in both his red, white and blue-sequined suit and his role as Melvin P. Thorpe, a flamboyant newsman intent on shining the light on the house of ill repute.

Rankin has performed at professional theaters, improv circuits and comedy clubs in New York City, Chicago and Washington.

He gravitates toward parts that are rowdy, comical and over the top.

"I never want to play the lead," he said. "I've made my living getting lots of laughs, and that's what I intend to keep doing."

Have a Diversions feature event? Contact Terri Bryce Reeves at


The Best Little Whorehouse

in Texas

Where: Francis Wilson Playhouse, 302 Seminole St., Clearwater

When: Tonight through March 11. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $26, $13 for

students. Call (727)

446-1360 or visit

'Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' playing at Francis Wilson Playhouse 02/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 5:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gradebook podcast: The "Is Hurricane Irma finally over?" edition


    Schools across Florida began preparing for Hurricane Irma long before it ever arrived, its veering path creating anxiety for just about every Floridian at one point or another. Cafeteria workers, teachers, custodians, bus drivers, administrators and others jumped into action, often putting civic duty ahead of personal …

    The Hillsborough County school district created a video celebrating its employees as heroes of Hurricane Irma.
  2. After sheltering thousands, Hernando schools are back in business


    BROOKSVILLE — As Hurricane Irma bore down on Hernando County, more than 5,000 people and 700 animals huddled together seeking shelter inside six local schools.

    Volunteers serve lunch on Sept. 10 at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics, one of the Hernando schools that opened as a public shelter during Hurricane Irma.
  3. PolitiFact: What's at stake in the tax debate?


    All eyes in Washington have turned toward tax policy after the failure by Congress to replace the Affordable Care Act this summer.

    President Donald Trump speaks during a bipartisan meeting with lawmakers regarding tax policy, at the White House in Washington on Sept. 13. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
  4. Police seek suspect in second armed robbery at Tampa Family Dollar in 3 days


    Tampa Police are investigating a second armed robbery at the same Family Dollar store within three days.

    Police officers in Tampa are investigating a second armed robbery at the same Family Dollar store within three days. [Screengrab via video]
  5. Rick and Tom podcast: Lots of questions for college football teams in Florida


    In just three weeks, the state of college football in Florida went from high expectations to lots of questions at USF with slow starts, Florida with no offense and Florida State losing quarterback Deondre …

    Despite slow starts, quarterback Quinton Flowers and USF take a 3-0 record into tonight's game against Temple. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]