RTP’s PAGEANT Is Well Worth The Price of Admission
I like my natural women with a little something extra. The six drag queens vying for the title of Miss Glamouresse in Richmond Triangle Player’s revival of the off-Broadway musical Pageant, provide an endless supply of laughs in a campy, fun, tongue-in-cheek spoof of the world of pageantry. There is competition in talent, gown, and spokesmodel categories, and my favorite, the swimsuit competition where the ladies’ “something extra” is tastefully displayed. I wish I looked that good in a swimsuit.
From the West Coast to the Industrial Northeast, the regions of America are represented in stereotypical fashion. Miss West Coast, Karma Quinn [Andrew Etheredge] is a flaky, new-age loon in touch with her many past lives. Laurinda Summerford, Miss Deep South [Brent Gallahan] reminds us that the War of Northern Aggression is still waging and that Southern women are genteel and polite. Kitty-Bob Ames, Miss Texas [Todd Minnich] stands tall over the rest of the competition, proud to be gun-toting and flag waving. Miss Industrial Northeast, Consuela Lopez [Fabian Starr] is a heavily accented Native-American Latina with a big heart but not much finesse.
The real beauty of the group is Bonnie Louise Cutlett, Miss Great Plains [Joe Winters] . . . with wholesome good looks and a deep love of breeding, the audience forgets that she’s a man [until the swimsuit portion]. And my favorite, Miss Bible Belt, Ruth Ann Ruth [Brian Baez]–whose personal broker is Jesus–genuflects her way through the show, unabashedly proud of her God-given curves [they are enviable].
The contestants varied talent offerings are hilarious. It is worth the price of admission to see Miss Texas’s dueling guns, to hear Miss Bible Belt sing out a rousing hymn, and to experience Miss Great Plains’ interpretive dance of the raping of our great land.
The spokesmodel segments are clever. Each contestant is given the opportunity to sell a Glamouresse product: spackle for your pores, eco-friendly hair spray, a two-headed cylinder with the ozone destroying spray on one end, and an ozone-rebuilding spray on the other, and solar hair curlers with the ability to pick up roving radio signals. My favorites were the calorie-laden lipsticks in flavors like Roast Beef Red, and the multifunctional vibrating powder remover [yes, it can be used as *that* kind of vibrator].
The gaggle of beauty queens is masterfully led through the Pageant process by the charming, toupee-wearing Frank Cavalier [Steve Boschen] whose adorable dance moves [love the way he shakes his tail and shuffles his feet] and strong singing voice are the icing on this delightfully entertaining cake of a musical.
The show has a feel of real pageant suspense since the judges are audience members who can pick the winner each night. My favorite happened to win the night I attended. And no, I did not bribe the judges.
Musical Director Kim Fox’s rousing tunes are catchy, and Ann Easterling’s choreography perfectly mimics the typical beauty contest. I hope that hair and makeup designer Joel Furtick will come transform my face when the show is over.
Pageant is a great debut to the Richmond Triangle Players’ 2014-2015 season. The show runs through August 30 at RTP at 1300 Altamont. Tickets are $18-30. For more information, contact (804) 346-8113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
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