Teenage performers skewer beauty pageants in KIDSTAGE musical ‘Hot Mess’

March 13, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Teenage performers skewer beauty pageants in KIDSTAGE musical ‘Hot Mess’

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“Hot Mess” — a fledgling musical about beauty pageants — is not afraid to address some ugly truths.

The creators poke a high heel behind the scenes at a beauty pageant in the comedy, the latest offering from Village Theatre’s KIDSTAGE Company Originals program — a collaboration among young performers and theater professionals. The creators then perform the piece.

“Hot Mess” is due to receive a barebones reading — no costumes, no sets — at First Stage Theatre from March 23-25.

The team behind “Hot Mess” is a group of seven teenage girls, ages 14-17. Director Kiki Abba, a mentor and, more importantly, a grown-up, encouraged the girls to rely on personal experiences in the theater realm and the pressure cooker of high school to fashion the plot.

“If someone from the audience goes home and repeats a line that one of the girls has written and is like, ‘Oh, that was a good joke,’ then we’ve totally won,” Abba said. “That’s all you can ask for.”

If you go

‘Hot Mess’

  • Village Theatre — First Stage Theatre
  • 120 Front St. N.
  • March 23-25
  • Show times vary
  • $12
  • 392-2202 or www.villagetheatre.org

The plot centers on a half-dozen girls engrossed in a no-sharp-elbow-spared race for a pageant crown. The dynamic changes after a girl from Japan lands in town and intends to compete in the contest.

“In their pursuit of trying to teach this new girl the ropes of the pageant world, they begin to see that what they’re doing is not necessarily being themselves,” Abba said.

The film “Drop Dead Gorgeous” — a 1999 farce about a small town pageant rivalry between Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards — is among Abba’s favorite flicks.

The cable TV reality show “Toddlers & Tiaras” served as a glittered-and- sequined source of inspiration for the “Hot Mess” team.

So, too, did the members’ earlier experiences in musical theater, on the Village Theatre stage and elsewhere.

“They definitely have a shorthand vocabulary of how to talk musical theater to one another and to different instructors,” Abba said.

The premise sounds as light as a set of fake eyelashes, but Abba said although “Hot Mess” is less serious than past KIDSTAGE Company Originals productions, the musical addresses the issues of self-image and trust engrained in the teenage experience.

“It’s not really taking down the system, but it’s more of, ‘If I’m going to go up there and win a crown as a pageant queen, I want to win it as being the best version of myself,’” Abba said.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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