Crowning A New Miss Glamorous - "Pageant" Comes To The Coronado Playhouse
Pageants are truly one of the LGBT world’s best guilty pleasures. They are campy, cheesy and yet they celebrate the beauty, talent and determination of women. It’s a world of stereotypes, a paradox. Something a lesbian feminist like me loves to hate.
Secretly I love the evening gown and swimsuit competitions, they’re like a PG-13 version of a Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. And I must give a nod to the gay boys who designed all the costumes, shoes, sparkly dresses AND the hair and makeup-PLUS the choreography and the famous walk. My guess is they are proud of their end product, but secretly hate those bitches because they can wear the dress better and clearly they’ve got talent.
The musical Pageant, is chock-full of camp, glamour, song, dance and anticipation. But, are you ready for the kicker? Men play all the women and the judges are chosen at random from the audience, with a different Pageant winner (and a different ending to the play) every night!
The Coronado Playhouse production is directed and choreographed by Jennie Gray Connard (more on her later) and the evening’s emcee is none other than Mr. Frankie Cavalier played by character actor Barron Henzel.
Frankie Cavalier, could there be a more perfect pageant emcee name? It’s pretty clear that Connard and Henzel are enjoying the ride.
What are you enjoying most about this show?
Jennie Gray Connard: Well, it’s pink and sparkly with singing, dancing boys! Musically it is very catchy. I have been a fan of the Miss America pageant since I was a little girl. The glitz and glamour of it. The show is honest and funny in its portrayal of pageants.
Actor Barron Henzel: What makes it fun is that everyone is in on the joke. It’s a spectacle. It’s got all the stereotypes. The music is upbeat, there are moments that are silly and over-the-top. It’s got a Lawrence Welk vibe to it. You know the songs are good if three weeks into rehearsing you are not sick of them yet.
Tell me about casting this show.
Connard: Actually, when I first got started I was a little concerned because auditions started off slow. Then suddenly we had more than enough actors. During callbacks I felt I could have cast the show twice. I feel like everyone fell into place perfectly, both in look and personality.
Tell me about the ambiance and set of the show.
Henzel: Well, the house is opening early, at 7 p.m.; which means the box office and bar open too. It’s a full-service bar, we encourage everyone to come early and relax. Come in to see our set. It is over-the-top, glamouresque. Then we have this behind-the-scenes experience. At 7:30 you can go behind the velvet rope for $5. You’ll be guided on a tour backstage. Come see the inner workings of the playhouse and where the live band sits. You’ll also get to stop by Frankie Cavalier’s dressing room for a photo op. Then you’ll be kicked out so Frankie can get ready for the show.
Anything else you would want our readers to know about the show?
Connard: Men are playing the characters, but this is not a drag show. The actors are playing women. They are not playing the character of a man who is dressing as a woman. Their characters are not drag queens entering a pageant.
Henzel: We love our sisters in drag, but these actors are portraying women. The playwright has truly developed female characters. The costuming in this show, by Pamela Stompoly-Ericson, is wonderful, but you wouldn’t know it yet. All our marketing is just the legs, pretty legs, but you don’t see the costumes. We’re giving you a wink and a nod, just a bit of a tease so we don’t give it all away.
Pageant runs Friday, April 5 through Sunday, May 12 at The Coronado Playhouse. For tickets and more information call 619.435.4856 or go to coronadoplayhouse.com.