The Bill Russell-Frank Kelly-Albert Evans musical began performances Feb. 3 at Red Lacquer, home of Lucky Cheng's in midtown Manhattan. The musical comedy plays Monday nights through Feb. 24 at 7:30 PM. Half of all proceeds from Pageant go directly to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
In response to the sold-out performances, an additional 10:30 PM performance has been added on Feb. 24.
SAS Productions is producing the engagement and tapped Andy Sandberg/ABS Productions, who directed and produced Russell's The Last Smoker in America, to executive produce the musical comedy that features an all-male cast playing the beauty queens.
Directed by Matt Lenz, the musical's creative team is crowned with two artists seasoned in the world of beauty competitions: choreographer Shea Sullivan, who has created dances for several Miss America contestants (including 2013 Miss America winner Mallory Hagan), as well as gown designer Stephen Yearick. The creative team also includes music director Mark Hartman, scenic designer Paul DePoo and lighting designer Paul Miller.
The producers are hopeful for an extended Off-Broadway life for the musical following the initial February dates. "This is such a terrific show. We want to expose a new generation to it," producer-choreographer Sullivan told Playbill.com. "It's such a beloved piece of theatre, and it's a great marriage between the pageant and theatre worlds. It's gonna be a blast, and this is a wonderful chance to give back to BC/EFA."
Pageant, which premiered Off-Broadway in 1991 at the Blue Angel, is written by two-time Tony nominee Russell (Side Show) and Kelly, with music by Evans. It was conceived by Robert Longbottom (Side Show). The new production is produced by SAS Productions in association with Kitty Potapow.
Tony Award nominee Brad Oscar (The Producers, Big Fish) hosts the evenings that include competitors Cearley (The Skivvies, The Rocky Horror Show), Grande (Mamma Mia!), Thomas (Xanadu), Douglas Lyons (Beautiful), Alex Ringler (West Side Story) and Seth Tucker (My Kiki).
Here's how the musical is billed: "Who will it be? Like every beauty pageant you've seen before - contestants are desperately vying for the glittering tiara. Swimsuit, talent, and evening gown competitions – the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat! Excitement and suspense, but first and foremost, beauty! Unlike some beauty pageants you've seen before, the female contestants are all played by men. And the audience gets to select the winner each night…let the beauty begin!"
Tickets are available at PageantTheMusical.com. General admission is $20, with preferred seating available for $45 and VIP packages (including a photo op and meet-and-greet with the cast) available for $100. All levels of admission require a two-drink minimum on top of the cover charge.
Here's a look at a recent rehearsal.