There (S)he is!
by Terri Corcoran
If the idea of laughing practically nonstop for 90 minutes appeals to you, the show to see is Pageant at Rep Stage (Theatre Outback at Howard Community College through April 8). Pageant is an uproarious spoof of a beauty pageant, featuring six contestants played by men in drag. The title to be won is "Miss Glamouresse", and the competition includes evening gown, swimsuit, talent, spokesmodelling for Glamouresse beauty products, and giving beauty crisis counseling to callers-in.
Headed by Ty Hreben doing the funniest take off ever of the smooth and sappy, suave and snappy, corny as can be Emcee in a silver-gray tux, the Rep Stage cast are all winners: Stuart Goldstone is Miss Bible Belt, adorned with crosses, huge falsies, majoring in the Book of Lamentations at Bible college, and bringing down the house with her talent - singing about her financial strategy ("I'm banking on Jesus") with Jim Bakker hysterics. Miss Deep South (James J. Waltz) has perfected the forced, fake beauty pageant smile, and has a talent of ventriloquizing with two puppets and a fully moving mouth. Randolph Hadaway's Miss Texas is daddy's little rich girl whose talent routine saluting Texas in song, dance and lassoing a tiny wind-up cow is the standout talent.
Brian Jacobs does double duty as Miss Industrial Northeast, a Hispanic who roller blades while playing the accordion, and then as former Miss Glamouresse who's gained a few hundred pounds during her reign. Her recap of the contestants talents while the judges vote is hysterical! David C. Allen's Miss West Coast, Karma Quinn, has a degree in est, has lived many past lives, and in the future hopes "to live in the past". Finally, Douglas Lisenbee plays Miss Great Plains with a delightfully elastic face - terrific expressions! - whose talent is a dramatic monologue illustrating the "raping" of America's land.
The "girls" demonstrate all the Glamouresse products, like Puff 'n' Vac powder compact attached to a dustbuster to clean up spills, facial spackle in a bucket to fill in skin pores, and lipstick with calories in flavors such as "roast beef" for gals on the go!
Terry J. Long's direction is sensational - no opportunities for comedy are missed. James Hunnicutt's choreography of the goofy production numbers is done with great humor and satire.
The costumes by Denise Umland are elaborate and hilarious, from Miss Deep South's southern belle gown to Emcee Frankie Cavalier's blue jumpsuit and Martian antennas for the number about Glamouresse's products for the year 3000. The contestants have matching blue dresses for the opening number and matching "suimsuit ensembles". Greg Malone's wig design and Ed Zarkowski's props and makeup are also big stars of this show, except for the hair and makeup on Miss Industrial Northeast which goes beyond funny to ridiculous.
The glittery-ditzy pageant atmosphere is the humorously creative work of set designer Robert Marietta and lighting designer Sean Pringle. Steve Zumbrun conducts and plays piano for Albert Evans' brightly satirical music (book and lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly).
Judges for the pageant are selected at each performance from the audience. They vote on the contestants, so the winner can be different at every show. On March 24, the winner was Miss Deep South, with first runner-up Miss Bible Belt, and second runner-up Miss Texas. But actually it was Miss Texas who stole the show with her hilarious bad-loser behavior.
It's very hard to not have a great time at this show. As Rep Stage's General Manager/Resident Director Kasi Campbell says, "Leave your brain at home for this one!".