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Pure Camp and Hairspray, Pageant The Musical, is a winner



A Beauty contestant or two is on the loose among the boys and judges in the Musical, PAGEANT, now on stage at OMG I Love that Show at the Dean Lesher Center for the Arts Vukasin Theatre, through March 6th. Director Lizzie O’Hara has assembled six beauties to run for the title of Miss Glamouresse (Glamouresse being a cosmetics company). O’ Hara says “We all love seeing (Miss Glamouresse) cut the ribbon for that new Sizzler in Concord, and her flawless performance of “my Pony” at the Shellie Awards”. PAGEANT the Musical, includes Judges who are selected from the audience and actually vote and pick a new winner for each contest. The wonderful campy women are Miss Deep South, Miss West Coast, Miss Great Plains, Miss Bible Belt, Miss Industrial Northeast and Miss Texas and compete in evening gowns, talent, swimwear and spoke modeling, plus the finalists answer live calls from the Glamouresse Beauty Crisis Hotline.

This is a contest with a difference and the star is "classic camp". PAGEANT is a hilarious send up of all those beauty contests we’re so addicted to. I have seen this show a few times since one of the main homes of the Drag community is based here in the Bay Area. Heklina and her Trannyshack have brought these beauties to their venues over the years. Drag Queens are competitive here in our part of California, so Miss Glamouresse has some excellent competition to stand up too. The 1991 off-Broadway hit with book & lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly and music by Albert Evans, is a 90 minute drag show that will keep you giggling about a classic spoof of beauty contests.

As the six the women open the show with "Natural Born Females" and "Born to Succeed with Something Extra" adds that great drag comment I love to make “I wish this show was all drag queens” - I am guilty of that request - I have always wanted to see Hello Dolly or Mame with a drag cast. O’Hara keeps her ladies moving fast through the contest. The show’s emcee, Frankie Cavalier, is the only “official male" in the cast played well by Mark Farrell, as he puts his six contestants through their paces on the way to determining who will be named the woman of the night. 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 spokes model for Glamouresse and take a call on the Beauty Crisis Hotline. Very funny bit as each lady promotes a fashion item.

This contest of heels and hairspray doesn’t want to teach you anything about the art of walking the carpet. It doesn’t even want to change the nature of pageants. It just wants to make you laugh and applaud some very anxious hair hoopers to a night of roses and padded bras, and that it accomplishes. The humor of the show is the over the top stereotypes, such as Miss Industrial Northeast performed by the very funny, John Paul Gonzalez, a Latina womens prison secretary studying to be a hairdresser. Gonzales brings that hand wave to iconic form and burlesque accordion playing, provokes only smiles. The one note Miss Bible Belt played by Chris Olson had some of the best moments especially the chorus numbers. There is also an over the top parody of the most absurd beauty products you can imagine, through little promos that the contestants perform (some not that successful) for the pageant's sponsor, Glamouresse. All the segments are very funny.

The talent section, a combination of legitimate performed talents such as tap dance and ventriloquism and complete silliness. The skilled Nic Nelson plays New age, Miss West Coast, and performs an interpretative dance depicting birth and all of life itself, “The Seven Ages of Me”. Daddy's girl Miss Texas played by local favorite and OMG Artistic Director Ryan Cowles, adds her heart and soul into her tap dance routine while firing pistols and singing. The brilliant multi-talented, Brendon North, plays Miss Deep South and was my winner for the night with an impressive performance working two puppets and singing superb in three very different voices. But the Judges went a different direction. North, Nelson and Cowles are very camp and perfect in the full gowns designed by Shirley Pierson. All the girls keep that very Pageant look, slim shimmering bright gowns by Pierson, and perfect for elegant heels choreography by Bobby Bryce and Leslie Waggoner. Ryan Cowles wears many hats for this production also as set designer, the Pageant runway and back drop is the splendid sparkle to this 90 minute contest. Lexie Lazaer did the wonderful wigs and kept the eyeliner to its limit on her girls as make up designer.

The tall, sleek, Derek Travis Collard, as Miss Great Plains, rounds out the contestants, and she has that awkward class that gives her lovable charm. Audience members are randomly selected as judges and introduced as oddball characters, and ring in their numbers to choose a different winner for each show. Director Lizzie O'Hara keeps the girls sizzling and Valerie Pope’s lighting design is first rate with the sexy pink tones and follow spot highlighted with a classic disco light ball. Music director Eryn Allen keeps the girls on pitch and her three piece well orchestrated music creates a nostalgic mood and the appropriate regional atmosphere for each contestant in their diva moments whether they win or not.

If you’re looking for a fun winter night with some classy women, this isn’t it. But if you love a Pageant, heels, wigs, hairspray and tinsel watching, this “Natural Born Females” competition is a priceless charm. It is completely superficial, but that is the point. Six performers playing the beauty contestants who know how to flex their comedic muscles and are in overdrive with ambition to claim and wear the tiara. Miss Texas was crowned the princess the afternoon I saw the girls, and she was pleased. I had a thoroughly, delightful, campy great time with these women, you should also.



Music and Book by Albert Evans

Robert Longbottom, Frank Kelly and Bill Russell

Directed by Lizzie O’Hara, Music Director Eryn Allen,

Choreography by Bobby Bryce and Leslie Waggoner

Starring the fabulous six vying for Miss Glamouresse: Derek Travis Collard (Miss Great Plains); Ryan Cowles (Miss Texas); John Paul Gonzalez (Miss Industrial Northeast); Nic Nelson (Miss West Coast); Brendon North (Miss Deep South) and Chris Olson (Miss Bible Belt). With host Mark Farrell as Frankie Cavalier.


Feb 12 through March 6th, 2016

Ticket info below

photo’s by Tom Deans-Flegel

Call 925-943-SHOW (925-943-7469) or go to

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