Pageant the Musical

Previewed 26 July 2000, Opened 1 August 2000, Closed 30 September 2000 at the Vaudeville Theatre

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 glamerous 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!

A musical comedy spoof about a beauty show/pagent with a difference... the contestants are played by men in frocks!

The cast features 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' and Michael Xavier as 'Miss Great Plains'. This production comes into the West End following an acclaimed run at the King's Head Theatre in North London.

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

How do you parody something regarded as a huge joke? Can you produce material more cheesey from a concept that already niffs fairly pungently in the fromage stakes? Writers Bill Russell and Frank Kelly and composer Albert Evans have managed it with their musical send-up of the American beauty competition biz... The line-up provides us with a rough geographical portrait of America, of sorts: Miss Deep South (majoring in home economics and cancer research); the shy Miss Great Plains (favourite colour: beige); a big and brassy Miss Texas, a party consultant who works with the beauty- impaired; Puerto Rican Miss Industrial North-East, who roller-skates and plays the accordion, but not quite at the same time; Miss West Coast, a blonde Californian, Karma by name, dumber by nature; and Miss Bible Belt, a toothsome wannabe televangelist - if a piranha favoured sequins, this would be she... It could do with a touch more bitchiness and less star-spangled sincerity, and while Lionel Blair's compere is obviously light on his feet, a more sleazy, oleaginous portrayal might have provided more of a contrast to all the campery. But how can you resist a show that, in a space-age number, raises one of life's great imponderables: what should I wear to a brand new planet - should it be flats or high heels?" The Independent

"Pageant has been rashly transferred from the King's Head to the West End. Jerry Hall [in The Graduate] may be the latest grimly embarrassing tourist attraction, but she might be given a good run for her money by Lionel Blair in this tacky mini-extravaganza. Lionel and his Blair 'babies' eke out a fitfully funny satire on the beauty contest business. Lionel's so wonderfully awful that you actually begin to quite enjoy watching him. In a show where the six girls are played by blokes in frocks and swinsuits, he is the campest compere since someone dreamt up Dale Winton. And I mean that (I think) as a compliment." The Daily Mail

"For a moment Pageant put me in mind of the opening of Jerry Herman's La Cage aux Folles, in which a collection of human butterflies gather onstage in their female finery and then belt out the song We are What We are in testosterone-packed voices... But the two-hour send-up of beauty contests that calls itself Pageant cannot seriously be compared wit La Cage. Bill Russell, Frank Kelly and Albert Evans's off-Broadway show is slighter, sillier, less musically arresting, but good, harmless fun all the same. Judging by the knowing cheers and friendly hoots that greeted its transfer from the King's Head in North London to the West End's Vaudeville Theatre, it could become a cult among those who like jokey schmaltz, gentle satire, droll drag, tongue-in-cheek camp... I chuckled along with much of this, but still couldn't help wishing the burlesque was tougher and more imaginative. It was, for instance, entirely predictable that when Miss Industrial North-East was voted the winner, at least one of the girls who had been giggling with her would prove to be a sore loser. This time, it was Miss Texas, who tried to grin but clearly itched to boot her rival into the stalls. Again, I laughed; but, again, not a lot." The Times

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