Guest Review by Isabelle Fernandez.
Part of Camden Fringe, Pageant is the light hearted, saccharine, glittery music depiction of the Miss Glamouresse beauty pageant, with all of the contestants having a little more to offer than your usual beauty queen. The premise is a straight-forward one – six contestants compete for the coveted title of Miss Glamouresse, all played by men and the judges being selected from the audience – this is no ordinary musical.
The six contestants are taken through different rounds, including the ballgown, swimsuit and the particularly entertaining talent round. There is an opportunity for the contestants to demonstrate their skills as a spokesperson, with some of glamouresses’ more interesting and creative offerings. The audience populated panel of judges deliver the final scores Strictly Come Dancing style – scores held up for all but the contestants to see.
While there are no complicated storylines, no nuance and no surprises, Pageant delivers a whole lot of fun. The audience participation and physical humour make it feel like a pantomime at times ,but that is not necessarily a negative thing. The glitzy gowns, fabulous musical numbers, and the outstanding Frankie Cavillier (Miles Western), with puns aplenty, make for a frothy, light hearted evening.
The contestants particular character traits are established early on and developed throughout. From the former mother daughter pageant contestant Miss Great Plains (Alex Anstey); to the sublimely sore loser in this performance Miss Texas (Jonni Gatenby); to the impassioned religious contestant Miss Bible Belt (John McManus), and the heavily accented Miss Industrial Northeast (Nic Chiapetta) the enthusiastic beauty queen hopefuls are all consistent throughout, delivering energetic ‘teeth and hair’ for every round as one would expect in such a competition.
Of note is the talent round, with a performance by Miss West Coast (Kevin Grogan) reminiscent of one of Miss Patty’s dance numbers in Gilmore Girls, which has to be seen to be believed,but is worth looking out for, as well as the old school glamour performance by Miss Deep South (Adam O’Shea) and the hilarious monologue by Miss Great Plains (Anstey).
Pageant could not be accused of being highbrow, of having a plot or any intrigue. However, for those looking for a Drop Dead Gorgeous esque predictable summer pantomime with more sequins than you can could count, and as many laughs, Pageant is a good choice. With a stagehand named Dick Tucker, the world that is created is as wonderfully OTT as can be.
Director: Bill Russell; Katy Richardson (Musical Direction)
Concept: Robert Longbottom
Book and Lyrics: Bill Russell; Frank Kelly
Music: Albert Evans
Choreography: Sam Spencer-Lane
Design: Lauren Natasha Hall (costume); Tim Austin (set & lighting); Kevin Grogan (make-up)
Cast: Miles Western; Alex Anstay; Nic Chiappetta; Jonni Gatenby; Kevin Grogan; John McManus; Adam O’Shea
Image courtesy of Tim Austin
Pageant plays the London Irish Centre until 26 August 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.