In Part 1 of a series of interviews with the cast of Rockville Musical Theatre’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, meet Zoe Alexandratos.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you in the past year on local stages?
Zoe: Hi, my name is Zoe Alexandratos. In the past year, I was mainly working in Frederick, MD and Washington, DC. I played Sylvia in Frederick Towne Player’s All Shook Up, Rita in the FTP/Being Revived production of Lucky Stiff, and Mother Ireland in the Washington Christmas Revels.
Why did you want to be part of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas at Rockville Musical Theater?
An actor friend of mine recently told me she thought Mona would be a great part for me. So when I saw that Rockville was holding auditions, I thought I would give it a try. I feel so honored that the people casting me agreed with her!
Why is this musical relevant today and what does it have to say to audiences?
I think this show is relevant on a couple of levels – first of all, because we are still grappling with what is right and proper, especially in terms of sexual conduct in the U.S. Controversy abounds about what is moral and what is not. Second, this show is really about how people express love and sexuality, especially about the choices women have or do not have – and that is still relevant today, I think. I would hope that this show raises questions and starts conversations rather than preaches a certain path, but personally, I think this show says that it’s never too late to make choices that empower you.
Who do you play in the show and what songs do you sing? If you have a solo tells us what it is and what the song means to the character and to you.
I play Ms. Mona, the owner of the Chicken Ranch, as it is called. I have a couple of songs, the first and second being all about my whorehouse and the rules I expect my “ladies” to follow. My next song is called, “You’re a Woman,” and I sing it to a new girl I am employing named Shy. She is young, and has had some bad experiences. I think Mona relates to the girl, since Mona started out young as well, and wants to bolster her up and help her cope. I have a duet with my housekeeper Jewel in the second act called “No Lies,” where we are commiserating about the whorehouse being closed but also reminding each other that no one ever said life was going to be fair.
What is your favorite song in the show and why?
Finally, my favorite solo is the last piece, “Bus From Amarillo.” It is a beautiful song, where Mona tells the audience about how she tried to make a choice early on in her life, but chickened out, and in the process, gave up on her dreams. I like to think my character has to make another hard decision during the song, and makes a gutsy choice in the end. I also love Doatsy Mae’s song; Jessica Bay Graber does a fabulous job with it.
Have you appeared in other productions of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas?
I have never been in this show before, and I have never seen it before, so I hope I can bring some freshness to the role I am playing.
Which character in the show is most like you?
I guess I am most like Mona, although I have never been a madam! I am a teacher, which seems antithetical, but like Mona, I care for the young people in my charge. I want them to have a good life, I am a fierce protector, and I am a bit of a rebel.
What do you admire most about your fellow castmates’ performances?
Wow, this cast is really terrific – there is so much talent! I love the dances that my “ladies” get to do. Paul Loebach as Sheriff Ed Earl has some of the most hilarious curse-filled lines. Megan Miller Evans sings the heck out of her number, “24 Hours of Lovin’”. Everyone is working very hard and so many of the performances are genuine and genuinely funny.
How would you describe this score?
It’s pretty much country, but eclectically so. I am really looking forward to hearing it played by the complete band, since so far we’ve only had piano.
What was the best advice or suggestions that Director Duane Monahan about playing your character and how has Musical Director John Marlowe helped you with your performance?
Duane Monahan is a great director – he is gentle, never raising his voice, and yet commanding such respect. His suggestions for my final scene with the Sheriff were simple, yet they made such a difference in harnessing the emotions in that scene. Also, he helped me find Mona’s stance, which is much more Texas-woman-dignified than my own. John Marlowe is great to collaborate with, and has always been open to working out details of tempo or timing that make you feel confident as a singer. Fun fact: when I first saw John Marlowe walk in, I realized I knew him from somewhere. It turns out he was the music director for the first show I was ever in: Peter Pan, produced by the Children’s Theater of Arlington! I was six years old, but I still remembered him!
How would you describe Duane Monahan’s choreography and what was the hardest thing to learn?
My character doesn’t get to do very much choreography, but the choreography that I see the other characters do is fun, character-driven, and gives more than a passing nod to the time period of the seventies, which is when the play takes place.
Why should audience goers come to see The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas?
It has an amazing cast! It’s fun, funny, and heartwarming. And it’s a bit naughty!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing The Best Little Whorehouse at Rockville Musical Theater?
I hope the audience has a lot of laughs, maybe a few teary moments, and leaves feeling good about life.
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas plays from July 10-26, 2015 at Rockville Musical Theatre performing at F. Scott Fitzgerald Theatre – 603 Edmonston Drive, in Rockville, MD at The Rockville Civic Center. For tickets, call the box office at (240) 314-8690, or purchase them online.