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Interview: The New Boys of the Whorehouse

When you hear the title of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, you’d be forgiven for expecting the women to run away with the show. With GMT boys, though, there’s no stopping until they’ve given all they can, and the two latest additions are no exception. As they ramp up the pace towards their GMT debut, what challenges lie ahead for Andrew Forrest and Matthew Howells? Well, as they’re all too quick to tell us, testosterone poisoning won't be a worry, but their accents might be...

Hey guys, how’s it going?

Matt: Wonderful, thanks! Just making the most of the amazing weather we’ve had over Easter, as knowing Glasgow it won’t last long.

Andrew: Not just wonderful. Fabulous, wonderful and great! I’m enjoying the sunshine and trying to keep up with rehearsals for Whorehouse, our Shakespeare event at The Curlers Rest later this month, and holding down a day job!

So you’ve just had a full-day of boys-only rehearsal. How did it go?

Andrew: The room was thick with testosterone, let me tell you…

Matt: Ha! It’s always hard work in the boys-only rehearsals, whether it’s rehearsing the tough harmonies or stomping around pretending to be fit, young jocks! But you know what it, it is really starting to come together and it’s always a good laugh. It might seem like the show’s main focus is on the girls, but we definitely have our fair share of difficult material to learn. That said, all of our different strengths are working well together.

Andrew: The ‘Aggie Song’ is brilliant fun, even if I spend most of it picking up football costumes rather than whomping and stomping with the rest of them. The audience is going to love it. It’s a real show-stopping, high-energy number. The show is full of brilliant songs, and if the audience aren’t dancing in their seats by the end of the show, they should seek medical advice.

Andrew, this is your first show with GMT. What was it that tempted you to audition in the first place?

Andrew: I’ve wanted to do a show with GMT for years now, and this seemed like the ideal opportunity. I’ve been to see a few GMT shows--A Chorus Line, Threepenny Opera, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying--and they’ve been uniformly brilliant. I totally wanted to get in on that action. Plus, Whorehouse was the first show I ever performed in back in 1997. I was an Aggie (and a few other characters), and had to strip down to my pants on stage. I have fond memories of that production.

Matt with Andrew, performing ‘Aggie Song’

And Matt, you were actually cast in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, but had to leave due to scheduling conflicts. What made you come back to GMT?

Matt: Well, I never wanted to leave GMT in the first place! I was so gutted when I had to drop out of How to Succeed. GMT allowed me to do something I’d always wanted to do. I’ve been training a classical musician all my life, mainly as a flautist, but musical theatre has always been a passion of mine. Never did I think I would have the chance to actually be part of a show myself and perform alongside such talented people. I had to wait until I had finished my studies so I could completely commit to a show again, and I jumped at the chance when it eventually came.

How has working on Whorehouse compared to what you’re used to?

Andrew: Well, the last show I was in was Macbeth… There are very few rousing Country & Western numbers in that, and a great deal more blood. And it’s not as funny.

Matt: It’s totally different to anything I’ve done before. I’ve been lucky enough to have amazing musical experiences in my life so far, but so much of this is new to me. I have no acting or dance training, and I’ll never forget how nervous I was coming to my How to Succeed audition. But the GMT atmosphere really encouraged me to give it a go. Whorehouse will be my first experience of standing up in front of an audience without my flute to hide behind, totally exposed (both figuratively and literally). It’s terrifying, but I love trying new things, especially when you can get so much enjoyment out of it.

Andrew: I’ve done a few musicals before, so it’s not all new to me. It’s really good fun to be part of such a small cast, though, and to be an integral part of a really tight ensemble. Everyone is a pretty strong singer and mover.

What’s your favourite thing about the show so far?

Andrew: I’ve particularly enjoyed watching some of the bits I’m not in! The first time I saw the girls perform ‘The Rules’ made me laugh, and the scenes before and after it almost made me cry.

Matt: For me, it has to be the music. I’ve totally fallen in love with Country music and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I had never heard of Whorehouse before the auditions, but it’s got a great variety of numbers: foot-stomping hoedowns to beautiful ballads.

Andrew: The harmonies in ‘Good Old Girl’ are very satisfying to sing and sound lovely too.

Matt: Definitely! I agree with Andrew, though, it was great to see the girls’ numbers in the run last weekend, especially my personal highlight, the raunchy ‘Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin’’. Such fun!

Andrew: I was dancing in the corridor while they rehearsed that. My feet wouldn’t stand still. It’s ace!

Matt and Andrew with fellow Aggie, Richard Dalrymple

When show week’s all said and done and you’re looking back on it all, what do you think the biggest challenge will have been?

Andrew: I’m not particularly good at learning harmonies, so I’ll need a bit of work to get them right. But, so far, my biggest challenge has been trying to acquire all the bits of costume. I hung around a car park for an hour trying to collect a stetson.

Matt: Yeah, I have to agree, costume hunting is becoming something of an ordeal, especially as we have so many characters to play. It’s going to involve lots of quick changes, but really the hardest challenge for me has to be the acting, and trying to put on a Texan accent is the most humiliating thing I’ve ever done!

Andrew: Yeah, I’m just making up a vaguely Southern States accent. I probably should research Texan accents at some point…

Matt: I’ve not had any feedback on mine yet, so either it’s better than I imagine or it’s SO bad and unfixable that the production team have given up hope.

Andrew: My mum’s coming to see this production, I think I’ll find my scenes in the whorehouse a bit more difficult when she’s in the audience, especially since I think I’ve been directed to get down to my pants again.

Of all the characters you’re playing, who’s your favourite?

Andrew: Oh, definitely the TV Sports Announcer! He gets terribly excited by the Aggies vs Longhorns football game. My other character, the Senator, isn’t quite there yet for me. He’s a bumbling, excitable, two-faced politician, and I suspect I’m going to really enjoy playing him once he comes together. He’s such a doofus.

Matt: My only speaking character is the TV Colorman, who embarrassingly interviews one of the Aggie Angelette cheerleaders, and he is so hopeless I can’t possibly like him.

Andrew: Ah, yes, the golden voice of the Sunshine Network.

Matt: I think the character I have most affection for (possibly pity more than anything) is my Aggie football player. He’s obviously the runt of the group, and I’ve definitely been there in the changing room.

Andrew and Matt with Musical Director Erik Igelstrom

Do you think the men in Whorehouse are likeable?

Andrew: Yes. I don’t think anyone in the show is all-bad. Even the scurrilous Melvin P. Thorpe is a man you love to hate. He’s such a cartoon villain. The sheriff can’t control his anger, but he’s honourable and means well. Even my character, Senator Wingwoah, is utterly two-faced, but rather clueless and charming. Nobody in the story does ill for the sake of it, and nobody’s all good or all bad. All the men are just weak in different ways.

Matt: I kind of disagree that they’re all likeable. I don’t have much respect for any of the male characters in the show. They all need to grow a backbone. They have a habit of taking the easy road rather than fighting for what they actually believe in. The women, on the other hand, are all fabulous!

We’ve been asking everyone what they’d call their horse if we gave them one, and so far we’ve had some pretty original names. What would your horses be called?

Andrew: I think the Senator would call his horse something unsubtle and manly, like ‘Bullitt’, or maybe he’d name it after his wife: Mary Margaret. I’m sure she’d love that! Personally, I’d pick ‘Fido’.

Matt: It would have to be ‘Calamity’. Terribly appropriate.

And finally, if the Chicken Ranch was accepting male employees, what would your male whore’s stage name be?

Matt: Oh god. This question is making me quake in my cowboy boots. How about ‘Bronco Billy’? Sounds like a good ride. (Don’t include that last bit.)

Andrew: My porn name is ‘Fred Battlefield’, but I’d maybe go for an intellectual name, like ‘Bryan Cocks’.

The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas runs from 5th-9th May 2015 at Websters Theatre, Glasgow. Show information can be found here, or buy your tickets now here

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