By Anna Wendt of Sacred Heart High School
“THE MISS FIRECRACKER CONTEST” OPENS WITH A BANG Smith Cotton High School brings a Mississippi pageant to life in THE MISS FIRECRACKER CONTEST. Through the eyes of 24-year-old contestant Carnelle Scott, ex-floozy and dreamer extraordinaire, the audience gets a taste of the struggles of the southern family and learns that being yourself is better than a thousand pageant crowns.
A giggle-worthy comedy, THE MISS FIRECRACKER CONTEST is a guaranteed winner. THE MISS FIRECRACKER CONTEST was written in the 1980s by Beth Henley, who later went on to become a Pulitzer Prize winning author for CRIMES OF THE HEART. It then became a movie in 1989 starring Holly Hunter. The small cast and intimate setting make the show a choice one for the Smith Cotton stage, and the plight of the characters is one the majority of the audience will be able to sympathize with.
Playing the leading lady Carnelle is Kylie Bales, whose impeccable comedic and dramatic timing livens up the show. Her slapstick tap dance at the beginning of Act 1 is enough to have the audience rolling with laughter. As the leading male, Riley Garner’s cynical, short-fused character Delmount WIlliam brings an edgy dynamic to the play. Supporting actors Ciara Todd (as Carnelle’s shy half-blind friend and Delmount’s love interest) and Maddy Ross (as Carnelle’s former pageant queen cousin and Delmount’s prissy sister) keep the show moving. Their energy never falters, and their characters are as unique as they are strong.
The set of THE MISS FIRECRACKER PAGAENT, created by Marco Alonso, is simple yet sufficient. The scenes (a living room and a circus tent dressing room) are designed so there are no walls, only furniture, and the actors and audience use their imagination to see the walls and tent flaps. The costumes, created by Tristin Baro, bring out both the mood of the show and the individuality of the characters.
Though working with a difficult microphone system, the cast and crew of THE MISS FIRECRACKER PAGEANT glossed over the both muffled and blaring sound with excellent enunciation, keeping the plot understandable. Though there were some technical snafus, the crew banished all doubts with a couple of lightning-fast costume changes.
THE MISS FIRECRACKER PAGEANT is a heartwarming comedy about life, family, and new beginnings. Smith Cotton makes the audience think, and characters like Carnelle are easily identified with. With touches of sincere depth, Smith Cotton lights the night in this insightful production.