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Pageant: The Musical Comedy Beauty Contest

a Musical Comedy
by Book and Lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly. Music by Albert Evans.

COMPANY : 2 Fat Farmers Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : 14th Street Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 3810

SHOWING : August 25, 2010 - October 24, 2010



What’s glitz, glamour, poise and talent without five o’clock shadow? PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL’s beauty “queens” have it all, and as emcee Frankie Cavalier puts it, there’s also “something extra” in this production of the farcical Off-Broadway hit that’s a send up of beauty pageants. The musical, from Executive Producer Alan Finkle, Producer Dustin Lewis and 2 Fat Farmers Productions, showcases six of the most beautifully radiant lads, uh, “ladies” to ever grace an Atlanta stage. Miss Deep South, Miss Bible Belt, Miss Industrial Northeast, Miss Great Plains, Miss Texas and Miss West Coast will take the stage and steal your hearts while competing for the crown and the title of “Miss Glamouresse “at the Woodruff Art Center’s 14th Street Playhouse beginning Wednesday, August 25th. And the winner is? Well, that’s up to you, because the audience decides every night in the Atlanta professional premiere of this hilarious, over-the-top spoof. You will never again judge any pageant the same way!

“With a competition that includes evening gown, swimsuit, talent, spokes modeling, and beauty crisis counseling to callers in need, pageant goers will be on the edge of their seats to see who will be crowned winner at the end of the show,” says director and two-time Tony Award nominee, Bill Russell. “Audience members or local celebrities will be selected every night to help determine the winner, making PAGEANT an incredibly interactive, unique and different show every night!”

Executive Producer Alan Finkle adds, “PAGEANT: THE MUSICAL is truly a show that audience members enjoy seeing again and again. We’re very excited to be bringing it to Atlanta and are hoping to make a home at the 14th Street Playhouse.”

Called “screamingly funny!” by the New York Times, PAGEANT is a beauty contest unlike any other. So, practice your winner’s wave and come see if a baton-twirling “lady” can really “cure” world peace!

Miss Deep South Greg Bosworth
Cast Geoffrey M Brown
Miss Texas Brian Clowdus
Miss West Coast Ben Isabel
Miss Bible Belt Bernard Jones
Miss Great Plains Dustin McLean Lewis
Miss Industrial Northeast Nicholas Morrett
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production


Beauty is as beauty does
by titanic
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I LOVED this show and have been to see it twice. It is a farce, a spoof, and one of the best acted pieces I have seen since moving to Georgia.

I think what I like most about it is the fact that even though it consists of over-the-top, stereotypical characters, they are the type of characters we secretly imagine are really involved in the beauty pageant business.

I will admit, I have worked with one of the "ladies" in another production but in no way did that bias my opinion of the show. I didn't know he was in the show until I saw it the first time and read his name and bio in the program. He is an amazingly talented young man and it was a no surprise to see how versatile his talent really is.

All of the "ladies" embraced their characters and made me laugh until I cried. If you want an evening filled with the kind of laughter that makes you cry and causes your sides ache when you leave, then go see this show. It is a sure fire winner and a real beauty to behold. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
Objects of Contempt
by Dedalus
Friday, September 10, 2010
The question on the table today is, just what is beauty? Philosophers and teenagers since the dawn of man have studied that question, and, my research indicates that a satisfactory answer is yet to come. The old-fashioned beauty pageant used to have its finger on the pulse of beauty – Miss America was held up as “the standard” against which every girl and woman found herself measured.

As such, beauty pageants are a fertile ground for a musical. An adaption of the 1975 movie, “Smile,” tried and failed a number of years back. Now comes “Pageant,” a musical by Bill Russell, the writer-lyricist of “Side Show,” settling into the 14th Street Playhouse for the next two months.

It’s a decidedly mixed bag affair – a number of excellent performances, one or two decent numbers, a fair share of laughs and double-entendre jokes, but it’s almost sunk by an overall sense of patronizing contempt, and a penchant for creating characters who are little more than negative stereotypes. And, no attempt is made to get “backstage” or “behind the scenes.” We just see the pageant itself, and, when the winner is chosen, the play is over. To make matters worse, this is a decidedly “low=rent” pageant, sponsored by the “Glamoresse” make-up company to find a product spokeswoman.

To get the main feature out of the way first, the contestants are all men in drag. One gimmick is that we are not witnessing a “drag” Beauty Pageant, but a traditional one with no pretense that the contestants are anything but women (a few “something extra” jokes notwithstanding). Another gimmick is that selected audience members are the actual judges, so the “winner” of the pageant will necessarily change from performance to performance.

As a comment on standards of beauty, the concept has potential. But, unfortunately, the characters are written with such dislike, that any commentary is lost in the crude phallic symbol jokes and caricature-thin hairdos. Mr. Russell states in a program note that the reason women shouldn’t play these roles is because the play would then be “exploiting [them] in the way that we’re making fun of.”

Well, no! Just because you have a man playing the role, doesn’t mean you’re not exploiting HIM in the same way. I suppose that’s okay, though. What’s really exploitative is the disdain the writers have for these women, all of whom are dim-witted stereotypes – Miss Texas is a gun-totin’ roustabout, Miss Deep South is a genteel antebellum magnolia, Miss West Coast (named “Karma,” for heaven’s sake) is a dumb-blonde valley girl, Miss Bible Belt is a black Hallelujah-whore, Miss Great Plains is an awkward hayseed, and Miss Industrial Northeast is cartoon-accented Hispanic. Even the oily emcee is little more than a smarmy lounge lizard. Would it have been so difficult to make ANY of these characters play something other than a stereotype, something other than a pageant-hater’s notion of what a beauty contestant is really like? Would it have been so difficult to make some of them actually smart or talented?

Compare this with Mr. Russell’s script for “Side Show,” which is filled with affection for the freaks and geeks in the story. I mean, let’s be honest here – if the writer has such little regard for his characters, why on earth should we? If all the contestants are so blissfully unaware of their own “bad talents,” why should we even want to watch them? Yes, the first badly done bit is funny, the second maybe even more so. But by the fifth and sixth, I just wanted them to stop.

Okay, now that I’m through with my rant, let’s talk about some of the things I did like. First and foremost is the cast. These men bring a sense of commitment to their characters that goes beyond the normal “man-in-drag” preening. Greg Bosworth’s Miss Deep South is especially lovely and displays a flair for ventriloquism that belies the character’s contrived mistakes during the routine. Bernard D. Jones brings to Miss Bible Belt’s “Bankin’ on Jesus” a fiery commitment and toe-tappin’ tambourinin’ jangle that makes it the best musical number in the piece. And Nick Morrett brings an oversized sincerity to his “commercial” for the “Largesse” perfume for plus-sized ladies that was down-right dignified. The cast was filled out by Brian Clowdus as Miss Texas, Ben Isabel as a painfully skinny Miss West Coast (and, I confess to laughing at his skimpy two-piece in the bathing suit segment), Dustin Lewis is an attractively awkward Miss Great Plains, and, Geoffrey Brown, a last-minute replacement for the oleaginous emcee Frankie Cavalier, was all oil and smarm (but, unfortunately, too many missed notes, which, to be fair, should disappear as the production continues),

I also have to confess a fondness for the various “Glamoresse” commercial spots, featuring every bad make-up idea that could ever be conceived. Unfortunately, the first of them was the most outrageous, and it made those that followed a tad anti-climactic (pun intended).

So, this is a show that could find an audience – it does have laughs and pleasures that can’t be denied. The audience also has a good time at intermission trying to match-up head shots with their on-stage counterparts.

And, at one point, I thought it would be fun at the end of the run to tally up how many times each character wins the pageant. But, then it occurred to me that, since the writer of this piece doesn’t especially care who wins, there’s no reason for us to either.

-- Brad Rudy (



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