Let's Review: Cygnet Theatre’s ‘Pageant’ is worth seeing ... twice!

By Diana Saenger

Fans of beauty pageants have their own reasons for attending them. Those attending Cygnet Theatre’s new production of “Pageant,” will be entertained by surprise and laughter, lots of laughter — hilarious laughter.

Cygnet offered a production of “Pageant,” years ago and was very happy with the success of the show. Now they’re restaging it with all new elements. The first thing to notice is the adorable stage by award-winning set designer Sean Fanning. What he has done with the set is quite amazing. A large pink portal embossed with the name “Glamouresse” across the top is the perfect outlet for the six beauty pageants to emerge in and out from.

Glamouresse is a cosmetic company sponsoring the pageant, and what doesn’t contain the entire name, has a big G on it.

The audience’s experience with these beauty queens begins when they emerge on stage in their fluffy Glamouresse outfits singing, “Come take a look at the guys.” So if you didn’t know that before you go, that’s the jest here; the pageant girls are guys.

No pageant is without a giddy, hyped up, always smiling, beauty pageant host — in this case Frankie Cavalier, played marvelously by Phil Johnson. After warming up the audience, he brings out the girls to introduce them and their titles.

There’s the always-smiling Miss Industrial Northeast (Max Cadillac), she’s a hairstylist at a mall. Miss Bible Belt (Ryan Fahey) is a college student with her eyes on holy things. Miss West Coast (Luke Harvey Jacobs) is a sales rep who likes to fire walk and dabble in reincarnation. Miss Deep South (David McBean) is a big flirt who adores puppets. Miss Texas (Charles Osborne) is a party consultant who works with the beauty “impaired.” Miss Great Plains (Connor Tibbs) loves breeding livestock.

In their clothing, movements, dance steps, and comedy antics, there’s nothing to let the audience know these aren’t women. Only when singing along with the many dance numbers, do those male voices rise loud and deep. By that time, the audience is having so much fun it doesn’t care. There’s even a lot of fun with the audience when it’s time to pick the judges.

James Vasquez does a terrific job of directing the show. From the time the women emerge to when they’re peddling glamour Glamouresse cosmetics (that bring out enormous laughs every time) to their bathing exhibition and their crazy and offbeat talent show, one can’t take their eyes off the stage.

Music Director Don LeMaster has done an exemplary job, with Vasquez aiding with choreography, in keeping these actors hip hopping around the stage and belting out the songs. You can’t watch any of these actors without wondering what an amazing job it was for Shirley Pierson, costume designer, to make these men appear to be women.

The audience on opening night was full of glee for this show. Some came with their own tiaras. “Pageant” is a funny, lighthearted, entertaining, satire not to be missed.

• IF YOU GO:

“Pageant” is onstage at Cygnet Theatre Company, Old Town Stage, 4040 Twiggs St., San Diego, through Aug. 31. Tickets from $37 at (619) 337- 1525 or

cygnettheatre.com

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