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THEATER REVIEW: Coronado Playhouse’s “Pageant: The Musical”

Admit it: you watch those beauty pageants too, and not for the talent portion of the competition.

Here’s a contest with a difference. “Pageant: The Musical” (playing through May 12 at Coronado Playhouse) is a hilarious send-up of all those beauty contests we’re so addicted to.

Jennie Gray Connard does double duty as director and choreographer of the 1991 off-Broadway hit with book & lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly and music by Albert Evans.

The show’s emcee, Frankie Cavalier (Barron Henzel), puts his six contestants through their paces on the way to determining who will be named “Miss Glamouresse.”

They will compete in the usual categories – swimsuit, evening gown and talent – but because the sponsor is a manufacturer of beauty products, they also must be a spokesmodel for one product and take a call on the Beauty Crisis Hotline. Oh, yes, there’s a physical fitness category too.

The kicker is that all these contestants are men in drag.

I could pontificate about the history of men playing women in theater (the Greeks used them a lot, and so did Shakespeare), but this show doesn’t want to teach you anything. It doesn’t even want to change the nature of those pageants. It just wants to make you laugh – and that it does.

How could you not giggle at Miss Industrial Northeast (Manny Bejarano), playing an accordion while roller skating? Or Miss Bible Belt (Frank Remiatte) selling us Smooth as Marble facial spackle “for a deep-down cover-up.”

Miss West Coast (Galvan) is a hoot in her interpretive dance, “The Seven Ages of Me,” climbing out of the amniotic sac(k), falling in love, getting hurt, dying and being reborn.

Miss Great Plains (Sean Paul Boyd), “born in a barn,” tells us about her book, “Let’s Get Creative with Marshmallow Fluff.”

And Miss Texas (Brian P. Evans) shoots-’em-up with a “Texas Tap” in which she twirls, throws and catches a red, white and blue rifle and does whip tricks.

You can pay extra to be a judge (five are chosen from the audience). Miss Deep South (Trevor Peringer) was our winner tonight, with a terrific talent entry that combines singing and two-puppet ventriloquism.

Bravo to costume designer Pam Stompoly-Ericson and to the unnamed wig designer. And kudos to the terrific four-man “Scintillating Synths” band
directed by Sean LaPerruque

If you’re looking for a meaningful theatrical experience, this isn’t it. But watching these “Natural Born Females” cavort and compete for 90 minutes is a total hoot.

The details

“Pageant: The Musical” plays through May 13 Coronado Playhouse, 1835 Strand Way, Coronado.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 2 pm.

For tickets call (619) 435-4856 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.