Under the inspired direction of husband and wife team Bill and Anne-Marie Stafford, New Ross Musical Society has developed a young and committed team and their production of the 1978 stage show and 1982 movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas had that happy bright feel to it.
This isn’t the best structured piece of theatre with several big solo style songs and as very sad second act, that lacks a finale rather than a mega-mix. Furthermore, a very clever stage design proved too unwieldy for a small stage crew and erratic sound and equally erratic lighting lost the awe factor that the set should have created.
The strength and attractiveness of this show was the excellent female cast who populated the house of ill repute. These ladies were young, attractive and had tasteful rather than raunchy costumes. They acted with flair and ability. Their work on Hard Candy Christmas was full of emotion and pathos. The girls were Samantha Gibson, Christina Sinnott, Trisha Maher, Sinead Furlong, Jean Hanrahan, Carol Stacey, Catherine French and Teresa Corcoran.
Sinead Finn was good as the lonely mother trying to earn funds for her little boy who lived with her difficult mother. Janet Feeney was beautifully and aptly cast as Shy. Carrie McCracken was Jewel and her Twenty Four Hours of Lovin had a wonderful bluesy edge to it.
Catriona Morrissey as Doatsey Mae had a wonderful and plaintive song about herself and it was a standout number.
The male chorus had a rude, crude aspect that gave the Aggie Song umph and put the cheer leaders in the shade with their lacklustre Angellette March.
Martin Gladney was a confident narrator and Tom Reddy provided some excellent cameos throughout. Ken Moroney shone as the sanctimonious Senator with a crazy comb-over hair style.
Bill Stafford, who directed, was a treat in the cameo role of Governed and his youthful looks shone out from under a blond Redford wig.
Derek Shannon was funny as Melvin P.Thorpe, the crusading TV presenter. Joe Malone was a vital Sherriff Dodd and his Good Old Girl was a treat.
Audrey Larkin was splendid as the Madam at the Whorehouse , Miss Mona. Hers was a star performance in the Stylish Girl, You’re a Woman and the No Lies duet with Jewel. Her closing the Bus From Amarillo was tender and strong. Nick Cooney provided fine musical direction and throughout the show the fiddle work of Patricia Cuddihy was superb and atmospheric.