Miss Pageant | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

MISS PAGEANT, Corn Productions, at the Cornservatory. Sending up the admittedly easy target of beauty pageants, this latest concoction by Robert Bouwman and Todd Schaner--perpetrators of the Tiff and Mom shows--is much more generic than their Berwyn mother-daughter predecessors. Poaching numerous beauty pageant spoofs, most notably the Annoyance Theatre's Miss Vagina Pageant, this parody reinvents some familiar types: the overdosing and horny cohosts, Miss Born Again (wearing the miraculous Shroud of Berwyn), the tree-hugging Miss Global Village, the lesbo-manic Miss Underworld, and the robotically feminist Miss Anti-Pageant.

Stitching together Scott Lamberty's songs, which feature decent tunes but lame lyrics, Bouwman and Schaner also reveal how Miss Effeminate Son escapes Miss Domineering Mother by sheltering in the bosom of Miss Naivete. Sponsoring the spectacle is Hyde & Jekyll Laboratories, maker of "I Can't Believe I'm Not Fat" snacks, which contain a mind-controlling ingredient that triggers the pageant's collapse.

Maybe it's because this self-parodying field has been plowed to the last furrow, but Miss Pageant doesn't offer the same laugh riot as Tales From Mom's Crypt III or The Meaning of the Magi Gift Mix-Up. Still, there's wit in the take-no-prisoners performances and in a hilarious video that shows the contestants taking the CTA around town. Dawn-Marie Fletcher brings hard-boiled glamour to Miss Underworld, Monica-Hope Kallman's Miss Born Again is a holy terror, and J. Preddie Predmore's domineering mother adds a whole new dimension to castration anxiety.

--Lawrence Bommer

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