Theater/Dance/Performance Art

The Miss Firecracker Contest

When: Fri., Jan. 24, 8 p.m., Sat., Jan. 25, 8 p.m., Sun., Jan. 26, 2:30 p.m., Thu., Jan. 30, 7:30 p.m., Fri., Jan. 31, 8 p.m., Sat., Feb. 1, 8 p.m., Sun., Feb. 2, 2:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 5, 7:30 p.m., Thu., Feb. 6, 7:30 p.m., Fri., Feb. 7, 8 p.m., Sat., Feb. 8, 8 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 9, 2:30 p.m. 2014

It might seem dubious that winning a beauty pageant could be seen as a path to redeeming a tarnished reputation. But playwright Beth Henley set her Miss Firecracker Contest in the deep Deep South, her native Mississippi, where they apparently believe that a beauty queen will also be endowed with charm, intelligence and talent. That will be the ticket for Carnelle Scott to put a safe distance between herself and “Miss Hot Tamale,” a nickname she earned through serial indiscretions and a bout of VD. Her cousin Elain, a former Miss Firecracker, drops in unexpectedly mid-contest, along with her cousin Delmount, the black sheep of the family who has lingering issues with his sister Elain. The cousins are concerned that losing this pageant might be yet another cruel blow to Carnelle’s low self-esteem, yet there is also Popeye Jackson hanging around as her seamstress, a constant reminder of the staying power of toxic nicknames. The Theatre Charlotte production, opening Jan. 24 and running through Feb. 9, stars Glynnis O’Donoghue as Carnelle, Michelle Fleshman and Berry Newkirk as her cousins, with Amy Wada as Popeye. Together, they’re trashy folk with heart. (Perry Tannenbaum)

Price: $20-$27

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