**** Recommended **** What is worse – a stage mom, a dance mom or a pageant mom? When I conducted an informal poll on Facebook, pageant mom got all two votes! Hmmm! I’ll bet those voters have seen “Pageant Play”, the Towle Theater’s hilarious take on child beauty pageants. The whole topic of little girls in beauty pageants might be fraught, but don’t worry, there are no actual children involved in “Pageant Play”, just lots of laughs! 3 ½ Spotlights
Bob (Jerico Bleu) and Bobby (Rob Ibanez) are proud to be pageant coaches for child beauty pageants. At their coaching sessions, they use the acronym “SHE IT” – Smile, Hair, Eyes – Illusion and, when all else fails, Talent – as topics. According to Bobby, Bob is responsible for Smile and Hair, while Bobby covers the rest. Bobby does most of the talking in their session, which doesn’t exactly make Bob happy.
Their #1 client is Pinky (Lauren Knutson), the wealthy queen of big hair and lame, and pageant mother from hell. Pinky’s daughter Chevrolet (a French word!) has won every pageant she entered until she’s beaten by a newcomer named Puddles.
When Bobby and Bob make their pitch to Puddles’ mom, Marge, Pinky offers to pay – so she can sabotage Puddles’ chances. Bob offers to work with Marge and Puddles, secretly choreographing some clever dance moves. When Puddles wins the next pageant, Pinky goes ballistic at Bobby and Bob. Bobby guarantees a Chevrolet win in the next pageant – or Pinky will get her money back.
Bob demands that Bobby recognize his talent, but Bobby wants things to stay the same. After they have a huge screaming fight, they split up. Bobby stays with Pinky, Bob goes with Marge.
In a flashback, we see Pinky (as a 12-year-old – same big hair and lame) cowering while her mother (Mary Collie), has a hissy fit because she’s not developing as fast as the other girls. Her mother decides she needs a boost, so she makes Pinky get breast implants. Pinky ends up disqualified.
Meanwhile, we see Marge visiting her husband, Buddy (Ibanez) who is in jail for domestic abuse. She told him she had $1,000 toward his $10,000 bail, and that she’d have lots more soon. When he suspiciously asked how she could do that, she told him how she’d ‘acquired’ a little girl named Jane, bleached her brown hair, and renamed her Puddles. When she entered Puddles in a beauty pageant, she won.
In a nutshell – Puddles keeps on winning, Pinky loses her cool and takes Puddles, husband Gunner (Bleu) dumps her, Buddy escapes, Bob and Bobby reconcile – so who was Grand Champion? You’ll have to see “Pageant Play” to find out.
Set Designer Kevin Bellamy designed three kiosk-like triangular columns with pageant trophies painted by local artist, Freddy Gonzalez on one side. Whenever there was a scene change, stagehands rotated a column and added a piece of furniture to designate a new location.
“Pageant Play” photos by Wesley Bushby.
“Pageant Play” runs through March 11th at the Towle Theater, 5205 Hohman Ave., Hammond. Parking is free.
Running time is about 1 hour, 45 minutes with an intermission. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $19.
• Educator Appreciation Nights – March 2nd & 9th – Teachers and administrators will receive buy-one-get-one FREE tickets with school ID. Reservations required.
• Industry Night – March 9th – Present a picture/resume or playbill with your name for buy-one-get-one FREE tickets
FYI (219) 937-8780 or www.towletheater.org.
Read all of my reviews at www.spotlightonlake.com.