April 18, 2002
Stupid Texas tricks, part deux

The director and almost all of the cast of a Conroe production of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" have quit after the theater's board of directors demanded that they trim naughty words out of the script. There were also concerns that some of the girls cast as employees of the infamous Chicken Ranch were under 18.

The board met several times after rehearsals were under way and began questioning the propriety of the profanity and the casting of several teen-age girls as prostitutes, [director David Fernachak] said.

Fernachak added that rumors had been swirling in the community that he intended to shock the community with a pornographic production.


He said board members were satisfied when they learned that the parents of actors younger than 18 were at the auditions and were aware of the musical's content.

Board members insisted that the profanity -- the ultimate four-letter word was used three times in the script and g--damn 27 times -- be removed from the script, Fernachak said.

Fernachak agreed to remove the four-letter word, [Ric] Sadler [who portrays Sheriff Earl Dodd] said.

"He had even come up with some places where we could soften" the other profanity, he said.

But Fernachak refused to remove all of them, arguing that they were central to the understanding of the play.

According to the play, the Chicken Ranch closed after an outcry over the sheriff's use of profanity toward Zindler while the cameras were rolling.

"In a scene following that, other characters talk about how nobody would have cared how we had a whorehouse, but the one thing you can't do is say bad words on television," Fernachak said.

Conroe is a mostly rural community about fifty miles north of Houston. There is hope for its future, though:

The board issued Fernachak an ultimatum at a Monday meeting: Delete the words or resign as director, he said.

Fernachak chose to resign and [theater board president Don] Hampton agreed to break the news to the cast at Tuesday's meeting.

Learning of the decision, some of the teen-age cast members called Hampton's attention to the name of the play and how its title advertised its adult theme.

"What were you people thinking?" he recalled one teen asking.

Texas has bluenosed head-up-the-ass people in it. Lord have mercy on our souls.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 18, 2002 to Elsewhere in Houston