American musical The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, had its UK premiere at the Drury Lane on 26 February 1981.
The musical, with a book by Larry L King and Peter Masterson and music and lyrics by Carol Hall, is based on the true story of the Texas brothel dubbed the Chicken Ranch, which was shut down in 1973 after the protests of crusading television reporter Marvin Zindler. The musical sets the action in the fictional Texas town of Gilbert, where Miss Mona runs a brothel that has been entertaining local men for over a century. On friendly terms with the town’s Sheriff and taking great pains to look after the girls who work for her, Miss Mona has so far been allowed to conduct her illegal business in peace – that is, until a roving television reporter comes to Gilbert and kicks up a fuss.
Hall’s songs for the musical include A Lil’ Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place, Texas Has A Whorehouse In It, The Bus From Amarillo and Twenty-Four Hours Of Lovin’.
The 1981 London production was staged by the creative team behind the 1978 Broadway premiere production – director Masterson and director/choreographer Tommy Tune – and starred Henderson Forsythe (Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd) and Carlin Glynn (Miss Mona), who had both originated their roles on Broadway to Tony Award-winning success. Glynn (who is married to Masterson, with whom she has three children, including actress Mary Stuart Masterson) repeated that success in the UK, winning the 1981 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
The musical was made into a film in 1982, starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for playing Miss Mona.
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas was last revived in London off-West End at Clapham’s Landor theatre in June 2007.