Theatre Mirror Reviews - "The Miss Firecracker Contest"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"The Miss Firecracker Contest"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The current show at the Newport Playhouse 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. It complicates matters a bit, as does the repeated threat of Elain's eccentric brother, Delmount who has recently been released from a mental institution, to sell the family homestead and move to New Orleans. But, aided by a touchingly awkward seamstress named Popeye who is hopelessly smitten by Delmount, her former boyfriend who never went to the doctor to get cured of the social disease which Carnelle gave him and a morbidly obese and ugly contest coordinator, Carnelle perseveres in being one of the top five contestants which leads all concerned to finally escape their unhappy pasts and turn hopefully toward a better future. Director Rob Reimer picks the best people for each of these roles while stage manager Missy Castro and props mistress Sandra Nicastro keep the show and the numerous props flowing all night long.

Leading this cast as Carnelle is Sheri Mae Costa who dyed her hair a bright red to fit the 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. The gorgeous, blonde haired Melanie Snow is excellent as Elain. She captures the sexiness of this spoiled pampered trophy wife perfectly with her lowcut dresses and her guzzling plum wine and Southern Comfort directly from the bottles. Amy Thompson is a hoot as Popeye, the seamstress with the bugeyes. Her rapid fire delivery of this crazy girl's lines as well as her swooning behavior and crying fits over Delmount is hilarious. The object of her desire, Delmount is wonderfully played by Nishan Lawton who is constantly trying to get his unruly hair to stay still on his head.(The funny part of this is that Nishan's hair never moves at all.) Delmount is a wacky character who loves lying on the floor and smoking his pipe. He also gets his ass beaten up when he tries to defend Carnelle's honor to the wild crowd and returns to the stage with blood on his head and leg.

Rounding out this wild and crazy cast is Jonathan Perry as the sexy, sultry cowboy, Sam Mac who still lusts after Carnelle and Chantal Gagnon as Tessy Mahoney, one of the ugliest, fattest women ever to work at a beauty pageant. Jonathan's speaking voice sounds like Barry White as he delivers all his lines in a deep bass voice, making for some steamy moments on stage. Chantal is a lovely girl in real life so it takes a lot of makeup and a fat suit to make her look homely as can be. She is a hoot in this role as she enters her scenes gangbuster style, yelling at Carnelle to get ready for the next stage of the pageant. Add an all you can eat buffet before the show and a fun filled cabaret after the show and you have the ingredients for an evening of entertainment at the Newport Playhouse.

"The Miss Firecracker Contest" (31 August - 21 October)
NEWPORT PLAYHOUSE
104 Connell Highway, NEWPORT RI
1 (401)848-PLAY(7529)

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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