“The Miss Firecracker Contest” lights up the Denison stage
Date of Event: April 8, 2011
Posted: March 31, 2011
Denison University Theatre will present “The Miss Firecracker Contest” by Beth Henley as the final production of its 80th subscription season. Performance dates are April 8-9 and 12-16 at 8 p.m. in the Ace Morgan Theatre (211 West College Street). The director is theatre major Jennifer Messner (Aurora, Ohio); the play is her senior project in performance. For more information and reservations, contact the box office at 740-587-6527, or visit www.denison.edu.
Winning the Miss Firecracker Contest in Brookhaven, Mississippi, is the goal of Carnelle Scott, who believes it would salvage her tarnished reputation and allow her to leave town in a blaze of glory. She engages a quirky seamstress, Popeye Jackson, to create her costume. To complicate her life, her cousins arrive: Elain, the beauteous former contest winner, now forsaking her husband and children; and Delmount, fresh from a mental health asylum. When the big day arrives, anything that could go wrong does exactly that. An old flame, Mac Sam, arrives, working as a balloon seller and giving advice. Tessy, the contest organizer, hangs around hoping to snag a very reluctant Delmount. But Carnelle manages to cope with the “help” from these cheerfully nutty characters, learning that there are different kinds of winning.
Director Messner brings her love of clowning and physical comedy to the production. She gives an added dimension to what might be a melodrama of small-town life, taking it out of soap-opera realism and finding new ways for the characters to interact and connect. A carnival spirit pervades the play in the scenic elements, as well as in the action. And the pervasive beauty-contest atmosphere raises hard questions: “What does it mean to be beautiful?” and “Does being beautiful mean following the rules?”
Members of the cast are Grace McQueeny ’14 (Chicago, Ill.) as Carnelle, Elizabeth Gannon ’11 (Pittsburgh, Pa.) as Popeye, Marjorie Kimball ’11 (Fort Thomas, Ky.) as Elain, Ian Shapiro ’13 (Xenia, Ohio) as Delmount, Kale Hills ’12 (Kansas City, Mo.) as Mac Sam, and Elizabeth Milo ’11 (Zelienople, Pa.) as Tessy.
The stage manager is Rachel Nin ’12 (Morgan Hill, Calif.), the assistant stage manager is Hongyi Tian ’13 (Xi’an, China), and the dramaturg is Elisabeth Giffin ’12 (Indianapolis, Ind.). Assistant professor Mark Seamon is the faculty advisor. Costume and scenic designs are by associate professors Cynthia Turnbull and Peter Pauzé, respectively. The lighting design is also by Pauzé.
Ticket prices are $8 for general admission, $5 for senior citizens, and $4 for students. For reservations, contact the box office at 740-587-6527.
CALENDAR LISTING, Denison University Theatre, Granville— “The Miss Firecracker Contest” by Beth Henley, at 8 p.m. from April 8-9 and 12-16, Ace Morgan Theatre (211 W. College St.). Tickets are $8 general admission, $5 senior citizens, $4 students. Reservations may be made by calling 740-587-6527. For more information, visit www.denison.edu.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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