"It is our intent that the contestants in the Miss Glamouresse Pageant be played by men because women wouldn’t do it the same way."
This note from playwrights Bill Russell and Frank Kelly is certainly undeniable because if the roles in Pageant were played by women, it would just be the same ear-bleeding boredom of watching Miss America, Miss Universe, Miss Earth, Miss Teen, Miss Milky Way, Miss Sweetheart USA, Miss Grand Junction, Colo. or World Queen of Banana (yes, in Ecuador) contests live.
Egyptian Theatre Company’s production of Pageant opens at the Miss Glamouresse 2008 regional finals — six contestants remain: Miss Texas, Miss Deep South, Miss West Coast, Miss Bible Belt, Miss Great Plains and Miss Industrial Northeast but only one can win … well, at least for one night. During each nightly performance a new winner is crowned Miss Glamouresse by unwitting audience members.
The "ladies" are put through rounds of rigorous competition including the all-important "how do my TNA look" swimsuit competition. However, unlike most "real" beauty pageants, the contestants for Miss Glamouresse have less cumbersome talents … except for maybe Miss Bible Belt (Wayne Burton) … her talent’s about as inspiring as the Bible. Crowd favorite, the robust Miss Texas (Doug W. Irey) looks good on a hobby horse and handles a gun like Dick Cheney. Miss Industrial Northeast (Jacob Johnson), a latina with a name seemingly as long as what’s under her skirt, plays a mean accordian. Miss Deep South’s (Dallin Garber) deep southern drawl adds fuel to the fire of her hysterically funny ventriloquist act.
Unfortunately what is cumbersome about Pageant is the awkwardly staged beauty product endorsements. Although such endorsements are pivotal to the success of "real" male-dominating beauty pageants, Pageant’s satirical jabs are slightly ill-humored. Endorsing a large designer bottle of perfume (for bigger ladies) that Barbara Eden could comfortably live in is a bit juvenile, ignorant and in bad taste.
Phillip R. Lowe once again pinpoints the perfect costumes. From dull one-piece swimsuits and cover ups with just enough sheerness to make you strain your eye to fabulously tasteless gowns not worn since The Lawrence Welk Show, Lowe truly knows his stuff.
Kudos to director Kirstie Gulick Rosenfield for really understanding the ins and outs of beauty pageants. She not only senses the two-faced contestants’ motives, but she also captures the eerie essence of old cronie beauty pageant hosts. Frankie Cavalier (played disgustingly well by Jason Tatom) is sexist, sheepish and constantly salivating. Rosenfield also knows when the contest should be over — in less than 90 minutes, Miss Glamouresse 2008 is crowned, and while the contestants are entertaining and the contest is adequately ridiculous and satirical, there’s only so much woman a man can take, even if the woman is really a man.
Pageant runs through Oct. 18 at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main Street, Park City. Tickets $16–34, call 435-649-9371 or visit parkcityshows.com.