High-heeled twist of hilarity promised as Sonora theater company presents "Pageant"

Adam Estes, Enrique Vega, and Matt Mitchell in "Pageant."
Adam Estes, Enrique Vega, and Matt Mitchell in "Pageant." Rich Miller Photography

Glitz, glamour, belly laughs and audience participation — that's what Sierra Repertory Theatre promises as they invite everyone to take part in their "Pageant."

Contestants vie for the honor of Miss Glamouresse in the title event. The twist to the onstage action? The lovely beauty pageant contestants will be played by men.

The Mother Lode theater company presents the musical comedy by playwrights Bill Russell and Frank Kelly from July 13-Aug. 19 at its East Sonora Theatre.

In the play, six contestants from across the country are competing in the Miss Glamouresse pageant — put on by cosmetics company Glamouresse. Miss Deep South, Miss West Coast, Miss Great Plains, Miss Bible Belt, Miss Industrial Northeast and Miss Texas take part in traditional categories such as evening gown, talent, swimwear and spokes-model competitions. The finalists also answer calls from the Glamouresse Beauty Crisis Hotline.

And audience members get to pick the winner of the pageant — making "Pageant" an actual pageant — according to a press release from SRT. Judges selected from the audience will vote to determine the winner at each performance.

The comedy puts a high-heeled drag spin on the competitive pageant scene, SRT said. "Pageant," which features music by Albert Evans, is directed by Russell Garrett, who appeared as Miss Texas in the original off-Broadway run.

"When we performed the show in New York I was struck by how it was embraced by the entire spectrum of ages and experiences,” Garrett said in the press release. "Everyone from children to grandmothers were having a good time and pinching our cheeks and laughing when they would see us leave the theater after the show. There is no specific and categorized audience for the show – it can be enjoyed by all.”

The cast is made up of David Johnson as Frankie Cavalier, Adam Estes as Miss Texas, Enrique Vega as Miss Industrial Northeast, Clint Hromsco as Miss Great Plains, Griffin Barr as Miss Bible Belt, Matt Mitchell as Miss Deep South and Clint First as Miss West Coast.

Opening weekend performance tickets will be discounted to $25. There will be an opening night reception following the Friday, July 13, performance at the theater, included in the admission price. A post-show talk back will be held Friday, Aug. 10, with cast members, also part of admission.

”I think what surprises an audience is how sweet the whole thing is even as the show is making them laugh,” Garrett said. “It's not vicious humor, we really approach it as a loving spoof and want the audience to really root for the girls and look forward to seeing who wins.”