Review written by: Natalie Ah Nee
Beth Henley takes us into the “glamorous” reality of a small-town pageant contestant, Carnelle Scott, a young and charming ingénue in small-town Brookhaven, Mississippi, entering the Miss Firecracker Contest, the town's local beauty pageant. The play begins with Carnelle rehearsing a spunky act for the contest, later introducing Popeye Jackson, a timid and reserved seamstress, and Carnelle’s cousin, Elain, who is a former Miss Firecracker winner herself, who seems to be running away from her life as a wife and mother. Next we meet Elain’s brother, Delmount Williams, who is a hopeless romantic with wild hair and a bad reputation. These contrasting characters come together to produce interestingly comedic interactions with one another.
The gang journeys along with Carnelle through the ups and downs of the life of a beauty pageant contestant. We also see each character individually and experience a small part of their life. Although only a few characters make up the entire play, it creates a close and homey feel as you adventure along with Carnelle and her gang. Another enjoyable feature is the southern feel the play offers throughout the entire duration. As someone raised in the south, it is hard not to appreciate the southern slang and phrases that are commonly heard there today.
The plot is laced with the lesson that everyone eventually comes to in learn life: it isn’t the product that matters, but the process. Our favorite characters in the show come to learn that there are more important things within one’s life than the cold materials which society has taught us to worship. With a realistic yet happy ending for all, The Miss Firecracker Contest is a truly enjoyable show for everyone and I highly suggest this to anyone who might want to read a comedic piece which also features a hint of romance- and some amazing female monologues as well!