Set within a beauty contest where six finalists battle it out for the title of Miss Glamouresse, Pageant is a charming, amusing piece of fluffy entertainment that really sits in another era. The novelty was (and still is) that all the beauty contestants are played by men.
Conceived over 20 years ago by Robert Longbottom (director/choreographer Side Show and The Scarlet Pimpernel – original Broadway productions), with music by Albert Evans and book and lyrics by Bill Russell (Side Show) and Frank Kelly, this piece certainly had much appeal as an off-Broadway show that ultimately received numerous productions across the US and even popped up in Australia for a brief Sydney run.
SHooSH! Productions first produced Pageant over ten years ago, and have decided to revive the production, with mixed results.
Compered by Frankie Cavalier (Goff Ripoli, who plays with enthusiasm and delivers a Frankie that seems to be a bad lounge club act who has seen much better days – and better hair), the show is really a series of rounds (ranging from Beauty Crisis Counselling to the obligitory bathing suit segment) that contestants are subjected to, before guest judges (selected from the audience) vote for the winning 'beauty'.
While the girls battle it out, I felt that it would have been more interesting with more battle and bitchiness, than is on show. The talent round was interesting though, and in the case of Miss Deep South (Kyahl Anderson), truly impressive. Another strong contender, and eventual winner was Miss Texas (Jay Miller).
This is not to under-rate the 'talents' of Miss Great Plains (Andrew Wild), Miss Industrial North East (Nicholas Kyriacou), Miss West Coast (Steven Edwards) or Miss Bible Belt (Harley Morrison).
Directors Nathan Firmin and Brad Fischer keep the show moving (and amazingly also cover the choreography, musical direction, set design and more – what don't they do?)
Ultimately though, Pageant is a show which just seems a little jaded and unable to sustain itself over two hours (90 minutes would have been great). While it's not a great american musical, it should still raise a few laughs.
2012 Midsumma Festival
The Musical Comedy Beauty Contest
Venue: Northcote Town Hall
Dates: 27 January – 4 February 2012, 8pm
Tickets: $33 – $28
Bookings: www.northcotetownhall.com.au | 03 9481 9500 | www.midsumma.org.au