Triangle Productions' Pageant delivers everything you could want out of a drag-ified spoof of a beauty contest (assuming you're inclined to want something like that). From the dapper, smooth-taking emcee to the stubbly armpits of the contestants to the opening number, "We Are Natural-Born Females," the show brims with charm and good-natured camp. The premise is time-honored: Six well-heeled "women" compete for the title of Miss Glamourese 2006. They're judged in five categories: evening gown, swimsuit, physical fitness, "beauty crisis counseling," and talent.
The swimsuit competition and evening wear categories are quick opportunities to dust off a few one-liners, while the "beauty counseling" is an inspired little competition in which the girls offer fashion advice to the less fashion-forward. For some reason, I expected the talent show portion of the show to consist of karaoke renditions of Donna Summer songs—shame on me for underestimating drag queens. The talent show was my favorite part, featuring acts as diverse as rollerblading, ventriloquism, and interpretive dance.
My high hopes for fabulous costumes were not disappointed. From emcee Frankie Cavalier's (Rick Lewis) amazing technicolor leisure suit to the contestants' elaborate evening wear (with feathers and sequins in full force), the costumes are nothing short of dazzling.
The six men who play the beauty contestants do a nice job reducing various parts of the country to recognizable stereotypes. Miss Deep South (Shaun Patrick Hennessy) was my personal fave, a home economics and cancer research double major with a disarming drawl. The deadpan, Spanish-speaking Miss Industrial Northeast (Pepe Raphael) was also a crowd pleaser, not least because she had the best legs. (I mean damn, girl!)
The format of the show (a longish list of judging categories, times six contestants), had me worried that it would turn into a three-hour dragathalon—but in fact Pageant clocks in at an intermission-less 90 minutes. It's hard to find fault with this production: It is what it is—a casual, crowd-pleasing little spoof that works the camp angle for all it's worth.