Journalist Larry L. King first wrote an article in 1974 for Playboy magazine about the closing down of “The Chicken Farm” -- an illegal brothel -- in LaGrange, Texas. The Chicken Farm got its name during the depression when locals traded poultry for the services of the girls at the farm. Locals seemed to have no problem with the “small business” for more than 40 years until confrontational television reporter, Marvin Zindler, did a story on the brothel, leading ultimately to its closure by the governor of Texas.
A few years after the publication of the article, King then collaborated on the book with Peter Masterson and Carol Hall for music and lyrics to create the musical, which ran for nearly four years on Broadway. Masterson co-directed the show with Tommy Tune, who also did the staging of the musical numbers.
The original Broadway production was nominated for six Tony awards including Best Musical and several of the acting and creative categories and seven Drama Desk awards including all the major categories. The show ultimately won both Featured Actor and Actress Tonys and Drama Desk awards in the categories of Director of a Musical and Music and Lyrics.
The show closed after 1584 performances and led to two successful national tours and a film adaptation starring Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds in 1982.