This musical comedy takes place during an American Beauty Contest in the Great Britannia Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Male actors battle it out each night for the Miss Glamouresse crown, which will be decided by members of the audience. Each contestant has to go through various competitions to win the crown, including the Evening Gown, Talent Cavalcade, Swimsuit, Physical Fitness, and Beauty Crises Hotline. They also have the chance to win the Glamouress Girlfriend Award!
Yes, this is a high camp show and frankly it is exactly what you would expect, with lots of men dressed in 'drag', prancing around in outrageous costumes performing sketch after sketch, some funny, some not so funny. The wonderful Lionel Blair as Frankie Cavalier, the host of the show, camps it up brilliantly. This show is perfect for Blair as it gives him a platform to show off his debonair talent, and he, more than the 'girls', keeps this show alive with his marvellous demeanour. Eaton James as 'Miss Bible Belt', Dale Mercer as ' Miss Deep South', and Miles Western as 'Miss West Coast', perform adequately, and Leon Maurice-Jones as 'Miss Industrial Northeast' really does look and sound like a woman! 'Miss Great Plains', played by Michael Xavier, is very funny with those horrified piecing eyes, and my favourite 'Miss Texas' is played brilliantly by Graham Macduff . 'Miss Texas' face, at the end of the show, when she had lost was a dream. Mind you, she could win on another night, because members of the audience choose the winner, which does add to the enjoyment.
This is what some of the popular press had to say... MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says there is too much camp on the West End at the moment and he cannot take much more, but does go on to say, "Undeniably Pageant has some very funny moments." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "What a Miss Drag." He goes on to say, "It's all a question of bad taste. But this bizarre little musical....does not strike me as making enough inventive fun of gender-bending." MARK COOK for THE INDEPENDENT says, "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?" BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES calls the show "A bit of a camp squib". He goes on to say, "I laughed; but... not a lot."
The music is insignificant and the lyrics are mostly silly, but this does not matter too much, as there is a lot happening to keep you interested throughout. And although the show does look and feel cheap and tacky, it is a lot of fun!
Originally published on