If you know 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" only from the Dolly Parton-Burt Reynolds movie, you don't really know it.
"They did the whole Hollywood thing," Adam Baker said of the movie. "They put a happy ending on it. They cut out the sheriff's big song because Burt can't sing."
Baker plays Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd -- the Burt Reynolds role -- the Manatee Players production that opens today at the Manatee Performing Arts Center. Michele M. Spears plays Miss Mona Stanley, the Dolly Parton role.
If you love the film, you'll probably love the stage musical, too. It has most of the same songs (though Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," which was added for the screen version, isn't in this one), the same characters and the same basic plot.
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"I think the ending will surprise you," Baker said, "because you'll be expecting everything to work out but it doesn't."
As the title suggests, the musical is a somewhat bawdy story -- based in fact -- about a brothel that was badly-kept secret in a Texas town. A reporter made it less secret, and suddenly the civic leaders who were among the brothel's patrons had to condemn it.
The language has been toned down just a bit for the Manatee Players staging, Baker said, but just a bit. It's still rated PG, but Baker's not even letting his own teenage daughter come to see him perform in it.
It's the third Manatee players show for Baker, who was in "Pump Boys and Dinettes" in the old theater and "Man of La Mancha" in the current one.
Baker moved to Bradenton few years ago from Nashville, where he had a decent career as a country singer. He released a few albums and opened concerts for the Judds, Keith Whitley and REO Speedwagon and still does occasional session work in Nashville.
The director and choreographer for this show is Rick Kerby, the company's producing artistic director.
"Whorehouse" is a special show for Kerby. He was the dance captain for a national tour when he was just starting out his theater career. The tour starred Stella Parton, Dolly's sister.
"She sounded exactly like Dolly," Kerby said.
Besides being his first national tour, Kerby said, "Whorehouse" was the show that introduced him to the Bradenton area, when the tour made a stop at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota.
Kerby said he's keeping this staging pretty faithful to the early-'70s version he toured with.
"It's a little grittier than the movie," he said. "That was definitely a vehicle for Dolly. And there's an added element to it now because it's nostalgic. We've kept it very '70s."
Details: Oct. 26-Nov. 9, Stone Hall at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 Third Ave, W., Bradenton. Show times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $27-$37 adults, $15-$18 teachers, $13-$16 students. Information: 941-748-5875, manateeplayers.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.