How appropriate that a play called "The Miss Firecracker Contest" would open with a "bang!"
The "bang" is Becky Willis as the rifle-twirling, - tap-dancing contender for the somewhat coveted title of "Miss Firecracker," a two-bit beauty contest of an un-named Southern town. Willis opens the show with a loud, obnoxious, and extremely funny rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, causing the audience to be instantly attracted to her. She is adorable as the awkward red-head, Carnelle Scott, whose venture to capture the Miss Firecracker crown is the basis for this comedy written by Beth Henly..
The story has no major twists or turns of events in it, it simply follows Carnelle Scott through her attempts to become the smalltown beauty queen. Along theway we are introduced to her costume maker, Popeye Jackson (Andrea Stevens) and her two cousins, Elaine (Ruth Ann Ranft) and Delmount (Andrew Lowery.)
Willis as Carnelle is nothing short of hilarious. From the opening scenes you'll know she is the one to watch for laughs. Her comedic timing is almost flawless. Even simple things she works for laughs, like the way she says "Ouch" or the way she spits. The audience response to Willis is evidence that her methods are effective.
Andrea Steven plays Popeye Jackson, the homely seamstress with just the right amount of nerdishness. How did she get the name Popeye? Telling you here in print would not do justict to the hilarious way in which Steven explains it. Stevens manages to steal a few scenes with her "dorky" antics, which include drenching herself with plum wine when her heart starts to burn with love for cousin Delmount.
Andrew Lowery as the ever tense and spastic cousin Delmount deserves a hand for making "Miss Firecracker" a pleasure to watch. His eccentric actions as well as his line delivery are riotous.
The snobby and over-confident cousin Elaine is portrayed by Ruth Ann Ranft. Ranft's poise and attitude are right on track for her part with the exception of her accent. In comparison to the entertaining Southern accents that Willis and Lowery put on, Ranft's accent is lacking consistency but is only somewhat
distracting from an otherwise humorous performance.
Two minor characters are in troduced in the second part of the show. Kay MacDonald as Tessy Mahoney, the contest coordinator, is funny enough for the amount of lines she had. But the presence of Mac Sam (Terry McNichol) is slightly annoying. Not because of McNichol's performance, but because his relativeness to the the story was only slight, and more time should have been devoted to the four main characters, who were a riot to watch.
Bob Jensen and his crew should be commended for their conception and construction of the two effective sets that are used during Miss Firecracker. The set changes went smoothly due to a giant rotating floor that has been built in the Studio Theatre and stage hands that blend in with scene changes.
This weekend is your last chance to see the FC production of Miss Firecracker, so if you want to see a "crimson blaze" of comedy, don't miss "Miss."