Friday, September 2, 2016

reviews - PAGEANT - Arizona Broadway Theatre

Kurtis W. Overby, Michael LaMasa, David Vogel, Jon Gentry, Seth Tucker, Eddie Maldonado, and James Roberts IV
Photo by Kat Barnes / Arizona Broadway Theatre
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through September 18th.

"...the 1991 off-Broadway musical comedy Pageant is..surprisingly, the funniest and most satisfying production on ABT’s stage this year. ...When the show first opened twenty-five years ago, the idea of seeing men in drag parodying beauty pageants possibly raised more eyebrows and seemed more daring than it does today – society and our cultural attitudes have certainly changed during the last two decades – but the passing of time hasn’t changed the impact of the humor, and Pageant remains as funny as it ever was. ...It’s not making fun of women, it’s toying with the absurdity of beauty contests existing in the first place....The contestants represent each region of the country, thus there’s Miss Bible Belt (James Roberts, IV) who tells of how she once hit rock bottom to the point where she didn’t even have enough money to buy mascara; Miss Deep South (David Vogel) whose interests cover home economics and cancer research; Miss Industrial Northeast (Eddie Maldonado) who speaks with a thick Hispanic accent, works in a women’s detention center and looks and sounds as though she might have stepped straight out of Don Francisco’s Sabado Gigante; Miss Great Plains (Michael LaMasa) whose hobbies include breeding livestock and enjoys wearing beige; Miss West Coast (Seth Tucker) who is proud of living on the San Andreas Fault and enjoys her many reincarnations by living her life in the past; and from the one state that is most certainly a region unto itself, Miss Texas (Kurtis W. Overby) whose vocation is to work with the beauty impaired....Perhaps funniest of all, besides the contestant’s performance element that looks more like a nightmare version of America’s Got Talent, are the individual promotions for the Glamouresse Beauty Products. Miss Bible Belt promoting the Smooth As Marble Spackle that covers those deeper than normal skin cracks – you apply it with a trowel – is funny enough, but Miss West Coast’s demonstration of the Glamouresse Snap-On Deodorant delivers the show’s most undeniably, laugh-out-loud, funniest moment of the year. When Seth Tucker, who also directed and choreographed the show – he was also in the off-Broadway production – demonstrates the effectiveness of the product and then gets his first whiff, the look on his/her face is priceless. ...Geoffrey Eroe’s set design does a fine job of filling ABT’s wide stage with glam and glitter, while all other credits, from Amanda Gran’s wigs, Josh Luton and Lottie Dixon’s costumes, Dan Efros’ lighting, Joshua Tobin’s sound, to Lizzie Hatfield’s music direction are exactly as the show requires. Pageant is a hoot... " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"... Pageant is a loving parody that sends up beauty contests, but with one big twist—all six female contestants are played by men. ...While the score may not be that memorable, the book has some very funny lines and Arizona Broadway Theatre's cast, with their tongues firmly in cheek, are sublime, and its production is top notch. The end result is simply hilarious. Pageant follows a traditional beauty pageant format. The contestants are introduced and proceed to compete in a variety of categories, including talent, swimsuit, and evening wear. ...There is the chance of a different winner being crowned at each performance, which also adds a fun layer of spontaneity to the show...The book may mock the traditions of these pageants and the stereotypical traits of many of the contestants, but the show and the characters are full of charm....Seth Tucker, who appeared in the recent 2014 New York production, directs and choreographs the show for ABT and also plays Miss West Coast. His experience with the musical shows in the skilled, humorous portrayals he gets from his talented co-stars. There isn't a weak link in the entire cast. ...Kurtis W. Overby is a hoot as Miss Texas....As Miss Bible Belt, James Roberts IV has the perfect religious zeal and powerful voice to turn his solo number into a huge crowd pleaser. Michael LaMasa is Miss Great Plains and his dramatic monologue about "the land" is so stunningly bad but delivered with such verve that it is superb. David Vogel has a great ventriloquist number as Miss Deep South and delivers it with stellar comedic chops. As Miss Industrial Northeast, Eddie Maldonado may have the most stereotypical character of the lot, but he delivers it with relish....Tucker is perfectly dimwitted and clueless as the California girl who claims to have had many past lives..All six men have the comic and vocal chops to not only make their characters shine, with strong female characteristics, they also make each contestant someone you can root for to win. As the host of the competition, Jon Gentry displays the typical traits of a smarmy Las Vegas lounge lizard. ...Geoffrey Eroe's impressive set design and the evocative lighting from Dan Efros, when combined with the large ABT space, allow for the production to have the look and feel of an actual beauty pageant, something you wouldn't get in a smaller Off-Broadway venue. ...One of the most impressive things about Pageant is that, while the conceit of having men portray the competitors adds to the hilarity of the show, the musical doesn't turn the whole affair into an over the top, campy, drag show. Instead, it mocks and pokes fun at the zany nature of the beauty pageant business but does so with a huge dollop of love. ABT's cast is excellent and the direction and creative elements are top notch. The fierceness that the six opponents exhibit as they fight for the crown of Miss Glamouresse only makes it that much funnier."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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