March 16, 2001
Have you ever found yourself laughing at the over-blown drama of a beauty contest? Do you find yourself, nevertheless, irresistibly drawn to the annual telecasts? If you answered yes to either of these questions, consider seeing Pageant, opening at Rep Stage in Columbia tonight.
The farce pits six wacky beauty queens against one another in a cosmetic company's annual extravaganza. This in itself sounds like a sure bet for fun, but to up the ante, the women are actually men in drag - complete with swimsuit, evening gown, speech and talent show competitions. Members of the audience will be selected each night to judge which lucky "girl" will be crowned.
Another point of interest: Pageant was performed in 1998 at Spotlighters led by director, local favorite Terry J. Long. The runaway sucess of the hilarious production prompted the theatre to extend the show's run for an extra month. And now Rep Stage has wisely hired Long to recreate the magic.
According to Director Long, the show's humor is the key to its popularity. He also states that audiences enjoy selecting a winner. "People enjoy drag. When you add characters you care about, and they sing, dance and make you laugh - that's a real bonus. You choose a favorite and you really pull for her to win. And since audience members select the winners, it's always different; people will come to the show multiple times to see who the winner is."
Long, who has scored with local productions of Love! Valour! Compassion!, I Hate Hamlet, The Last Session, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, and Psycho Beach Party, has accomplished what seems to be the impossible. He is remounting this production with the original cast members. The actors and director agree that Pageant was on of their most fun theatrical endeavors. The cast includes David Allen, Stuart Goldstone, Randolph Hadaway, Ty Hreben, Brian Jacobs, Douglas Lisenbee, and James Waltz.
Despite the return of the director and the actors, Long promises some changes for this lastest production. The Rep Stage version has "higher production values", explains the director. "Classier set, nice lighting, some fun new costumes, and other tricks. It's the same show by title, but we have added a layer of newness. This drag show is different from most. These actors in drag create characters you care about. They really sing and don't ask for tips. The are cute, funny, and sassy without the bitchiness of some drag performances."
If this mounting of Pageant is as funny as Long's previous versions, Rep Stage will bask in the production's sucess. You might want to consider ordering your tickets early.