The title pretty much tells you what this show is about. But you may not know that it's based on the story of a real life Texas brothel known as the Chicken Ranch (during the Depression the Madam would accept chickens as payment) that was largely tolerated by law enforcement and government until a TV reporter investigated and demanded it be shut down. In the musical version, Miss Mona (a strong performance by Julia Cook) runs the Ranch with a strict set of rules and presides over her girls, most of whom seem happy to be there, although some have dreams of a better life. Ed Earl (an excellent Jefferson Slinkard) is the sheriff and her sometimes beau, and is torn when given orders to shut the Ranch down after it's exposed by the TV star reporter Melvin Thorpe (a very funny Jon Andrew Hegge in a Colonel Sanders wig). It's a sad ending as the girls all move on, but there's plenty of fun to be had before that with cheerleaders, football players, and a general hoedown atmosphere.
|Miss Mona (Julie Cook), Jewel (Whitney Rhodes), and the girls|
|the boys high-stepping it|
The Texas accents are so much fun to listen to. I don't know how accurate they are to reality, but they sound like the Southern accents you hear on TV (in fact the entire show is almost like an episode of Dukes of Hazzard). Greg Eiden is especially good at it in his dual roles as a senator and a diner patron, milking every line for laughs, and getting them.
If you live in the East metro like I do, Excelsior is a bit of a hike, but it's worth it to see the work that Old Log is doing, and this fun summer musical in particular. I recommend heading over to the charming lake town in the afternoon to avoid traffic (if such a thing is possible in this busy summer construction season), checking out the shops or sitting by the lake, and dining at one of the many area restaurants (I had yummy vegetarian sushi at Yumi's Sushi Bar) before seeing the show. It's a great idea for a staycation and checking out another beautiful part of the Twin Cities metro area.
The Old Log has an interesting line-up for next season, and I'm particularly excited that they're producing the regional premiere of the smart, funny, poignant two-person play The Velocity of Autumn, which I saw last year during it's too-short Broadway run. Starring Melissa Hart as a 79-year-old woman who has barricaded herself in her Brooklyn home and Paul de Cordova as her son who climbs in the window to try to talk her down, it's definitely going to be worth the drive.
*I was seriously derailed in writing this blog when I went down a black whole of Dolly Parton youtube videos, starting with "Hard Candy Christmas" and ending with the best country duet of all time, "Islands in the Stream."