Pageant the Musical is Gorgeous Fun

by Lauren Bull
pageant the musical

Pageant the Musical is an Off-Broadway revival

The original 1991 production was written by Bill Russell and Frank Kelly, with music by Albert Evans. In theater terms, it is a musical comedy beauty contest. In dessert terms, it is a funfetti cupcake piled sky high with frosting.

An On-Broadway incident occurred just before the show when my dear friend, en route to join me, was struck in the eye by some sort of floating NYC air particle. So we took our seats early and Googled “how to get something out of your eye” as the band played a few peppy Motown numbers. This is a metaphor for something, but I couldn’t tell you what. I am here to tell you, though, that you can enjoy this show even while you’re blinking uncontrollably.

The breakdown of Pageant the Musical is simple. Six contestants from across our vast country are competing for the title of Miss Glamouresse. There are the talent, swimwear, and evening competitions found in your everyday pageant, but the twist here is that the female contestants are all played by men. A couple of things I thought of during the show: Grease (the beloved original and the divisive sequel), and Vanna White during her stroll to the letters. But the show is mostly a nod to every pageant you’ve ever seen, except better, with the addition of catchy-as-hell songs and subtraction of “is it weird to watch a pageant?” guilt. It is Camp Candyland, a world where no dress is too shiny, no hair is too big, and no answer is too dumb.

In the midst of all the visual fun, Pageant the Musical also has some inspired lines. “In the future, I plan to live in the past,” says one contestant, a quote that I’ve banked to use one day when someone asks about my plans.

Added bonus? Select audience judges get to pick the winner of the pageant, which adds more suspense than you might think. Bring a friend, shake off what ails you, and delight in the pageantry.

Pageant the Musical is playing at the Davenport Theatre (354 West 45th St.) through Sept. 1.
Performances take place Sundays at 7:30 p.m. and Mondays at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
For tickets, visit

Pageant the musical

About the Author/s

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Lauren is a neurotic writer living in Jersey City. She could watch Jacques Pépin slice an onion on an endless loop. She edits The Digest and The Digest Online. @ltbullington

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