On stage now until
September 8, Pageant is a musical parody of 80’s American
beauty contests, with the female contestants instead played by male-identifying
actors. In true pick-a-path style, at the end of the night, it’s
the audience that votes which queen goes home with the coveted title
of Miss Glamouresse 1989. Therefore, each performance has a different
In this pageant, a new queen is to be crowned with the role of representing
Glamouresse Beauty Products as a cosmetic spokesmodel. It contains everything
you’d expect to see from a beauty competition: evening gowns,
bathing suit, and talent contests ensue, even the occasional TV commercial,
throwing each contestant into an impromptu spotlight to promote items
from the company product line, which includes gems like skin spackle
to cover up those deep skin cracks, and edible lipstick.
The contestants represent different regions of America, each with their
own special flare. Miss Deep South (Derry Oshust) has a talent for ventriloquism.
Miss Great Plains (Ryan Purdy) likes the colour beige and has an affinity
for Mother Earth. Miss Industrial North East (Javier Ricardo Sotres
Porres sporting a broken arm) works in a detention centre and plays
the accordion. Miss Bible Belt (Graeme Thompson), who I’d tipped
to win, mixes banking with worship. Miss West Coast (Kenneth Tynan)
is the clichéd California Girl. And Miss Texas (Simon Paterson)
can sing whilst tap-dancing, cheerleading, and shooting!
Keeping everything on track is MC Frankie Cavalier, a male game show
host played by the only female-identifying cast member (Kelly-Ruth Mercier).
Frankie is everything you’d hope for in a local D-List celebrity,
roped in to hosting a pageant: cheesy, mixed with the right amount of
OTT showbiz sincerity, from the top of his pompadour hairstyle down
to his ill-fitting white tux. Mercier nails this stereotype and belts
out corny ballads from show start to finish.
The musical was first performed in 1991 when beauty pageants were still
in their heyday. 27 years later, while these types of contests have
lost all their lustre, and men in drag no longer raise eyebrows, the
show still brings home the laughs as it has something fun for everyone
- complete with spinning set pieces, a live studio camera feed, a giant
video backdrop, and live band. No true spoof would be complete with
a stab at the sore-loser runner-up winners, and the cast hammed this
up. Miss Glamouresse went to Miss Deep South this time around.
2018 Aleana Reynolds