Pageant the Musical

Previewed 2 May 2000, Opened 15 May 2000, Closed 18 June 2000 at the Kings Head Theatre
Previewed 26 July 2000, Opened 1 August 2000, Closed 30 September 2000 at the Vaudeville Theatre

The musical comedy spoof Pageant in London

Isn't it time to put some glamour back in your life? Take a break from non-stop work and worry and step into the glamourous world of Glamouresse!... From all across America the six most talented and beautiful constestants to ever wear heels have come together at the Great Britannia Casino on the Las Vegas Strip to compete for the title of Miss Glamouresse. Not just a hairdo and a heartbeat, they sing, they dance and they'll even let you in on their favourite beauty secrets. But as much as they grin, only one can win. In fact it's a different winner every night! The beauty show/pagent with a difference... the contestants are all played by men in frocks!

Musical comedy conceived by Robert Longbottom with book and lyrics by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly, and music by Albert Evans.

The cast at London's King's Head Theatre and West End's Vaudeville Theatre featured Lionel Blair as 'Frankie Cavalier', the Emcee, with Eaton James as 'Miss Bible Belt', Leon Maurice-Jones as 'Miss Industrial Northeast', Graham McDuff as 'Miss Texas', Dale Mercer as 'Miss Deep South', Miles Western as 'Miss West Coast'/'Tawny-Jo Johnson', and Michael Xavier as 'Miss Great Plains'.

Directed by Bill Russell with choreography by Warren Carlyle, sets by Mary Margaret Bartley, costumes by Greg Barnes, lighting by Jeff Childs and sound by Joe Fosco.

This production was originally scheduled to open at the King's Head on 8 May 2000, but was delayed due to cast changes: Toni Palmer was originally scheduled to play 'Frankie Cavalier', but was replaced by Jamie Rocco, who was then replaced by Lionel Blair prior to the new opening night of 15 May 2000.

Lionel Blair's London theatre credits include the roles of 'The Player King' in Peter Wilson's revival of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Piccadilly Theatre in 1987; and 'Dick Trevor' in Hugh Goldie's revival of the George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin musical Lady, Be Good! at the Saville Theatre in 1968.

"That the humour of Pageant is of a lower order, no one is likely to dispute. But it is genuine humour, and the subject of the show - a beauty contest at Las Vegas, sponsored by a dubious cosmetics firm - hardly admits of anything very high... The six women contestants are played by men with hairy chests and other masculine attributes... The ladies are cartoon types, from Miss Bible Belt, to gun-toting Miss Texas, to wonderfully wide-eyed Miss Great Plains. But they wear their frocks with style, and answer the questions that are put to them with disarming inanity, and dance as though their lives depended on it... an evening of entertaining nonsense to an unexpectedly truthful conclusion." The Sunday Telegraph

"The twist in Pageant is that all the beauties in the competition are played by men. The effect is to add one more level of artificiality to an event that is already phoney. The show is repetitive, the characters are paper-thin and its contribution to any debate about sexuality is absolutely zero. Its only defence is that it is extremely silly. Directed by Bill Russell, and snappily choreographed by Warren Carlyle, Pageant bounces along thanks to some very clever performances. The cast combines a hilarious mix of deadpan looks, fake smiles, false sentiments and honest sulks. At one moment, when Miss West Coast (Miles Western) advertises a cosmetic product, the spray gets into Miss West Coast's eyes and nose, and the reactions are so well observed that the audience's laughter brings the show to a standstill." The Mail on Sunday

"The presence of Lionel Blair as master of ceremonies gives a curious authenticity to this delightfully absurd evening. Ostensibly no more than a parody of a low-rent American beauty contest, it manages to make a highly entertaining two hours out of one joke: all the beauty queens are played by men. Though hairy chests and armpits, seem to deny it, their impersonations are sincere (and in the case of Eaton James's Miss Bible Belt, utterly convincing)." The Sunday Times

Pageant in London at the Vaudeville Theatre previewed from 26 July 2000, opened on 1 August 2000 and closed on 30 September 2000