The first show of The Players 102nd season is "The Miss Firecracker Contest". The show takes place in the small Mississippi town of Brookhaven, a few days before the Fourth of July. Carnelle Scott who is known as "Miss Hot Tamale", is rehearsing furiously for the Miss Firecracker contest, hoping that a victory will salvage her tarnished reputation and allow her to leave town in a blaze of glory. The unexpected arrival of her glamorous cousin, Elain, herself a former Miss Firecracker winner, who has walked out on her rich but boring husband and her two small sons, complicates matters a bit, as does the repeated threat of Elain's eccentric brother, Delmount who has recently been released from a mental institution. He wants to sell the family homestead and move to New Orleans. Carnelle is aided by a touchingly awkward seamstress named Popeye who is hopelessly smitten by Delmount, her sexy former boyfriend whom Carnelle gave a social disease to and a homely, bossy contest coordinator, she perseveres in being one of the top five contestants. This helps lead all concerned to finally escape their unhappy pasts and turn hopefully toward a better future. Director Patricia Hawkridge picks the best six people for each of these character roles while stage manager Lydia Matteson keeps the show and the numerous props by Roz Remington and Bonnie derManlian in order all night long.
Patricia blocks the show beautifully and gives each cast member their moment to shine in this quirky show. She also gives them many comical scenes with her expert direction. It is an excellent example of character study. The gorgeous living room is the set for the first act while the backstage area of the contest is the scene for the second act. Leading this cast as Carnelle Scott is Dawn Souza who plays this hot as a pistol character. She captures the temperament of this hot,spitfire gal, bringing excitement and energy to this madcap role with her crazy antics. Dawn is a pretty brunette who wears a red wig for this role. One of her funniest moments comes at the opening where she tap dances to the Star Spangled Banner. Also hilarious is the crying scene among the three women near the end of the first act and the contest proceedings, too. It has to be seen to be believed. The gorgeous blonde, Diana Puccio is excellent as Elain Rutledge. She captures the sexiness of this spoiled pampered trophy wife perfectly with her outfits and her guzzling plum wine directly from the bottle is funny, too. The fighting scene between Diana and Kevin invokes much laughter, too. Elain gets her just desserts at the end of the show. Lisa Miscia is a hoot as Popeye, the seamstress with the bug eyes. Her rapid fire delivery of this girl's lines as well as her swooning behavior and crying fits over Delmount are hilarious. One of her funny lines is "I can hear voices through my eyes" and she tells a story about a midget mother. The object of her desire, Delmount Williams is excellently played by Kevin Broccoli who is constantly trying to get his unruly hair to stay still on his head however the funny part of this is that Kevin's hair never moves at all. Delmount is a wacky character who loves lying on the floor and smoking his pipe. He also gets beaten up when he tries to defend Carnelle's honor to the wild crowd, returning to the stage limping. One of his funniest outfits is when he enters the crying scene wearing a turban and a robe. Kevin's ad libs as he exits the stage are hilarious, too. Delmount enters Act 1 saying his latest job is scraping dogs off the street and later on he puts down the beauty pageant by saying they are garish painted prancing pigs. There is a tender scene between Kevin and Lisa in the second act that leads into laughter a couple of seconds later.
Rounding out this wild and crazy cast of characters is David DeAlmo as Mac Sam, the ultra sexy and sultry cowboy who still lusts after Carnelle as well as Lauren Odenwalder as Tessy Mahoney, one of the bossiest women ever to work a beauty pageant. David makes for some steamy moments on stage when he kisses Carnelle and exchanges lusty looks at Elain. He is a topnotch actor who I have reviewed several times before and this is one more feather in his cap. Lauren is a lovely girl in real life so it takes a lot of makeup to try make her look as homely as can be. She is a hoot in this role as she enters the stage gangbusters, telling at Carnelle to get ready for the next stage of the pageant while constantly blowing a whistle. All these ingredients added together make this show a comedy to savor. To join this theatre club be sure to give Lydia a call.