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The Miss Firecracker Contest

The Miss Firecracker Contest
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Beth Henley
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 78
Pub. Date: 1985
ISBN-10: 0822207621
ISBN-13: 9780822207627
Cast Size: 4 female, 2 male

About the Play:

The Miss Firecracker Contest has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues and Female/Female Scenes.

The Miss Firecracker Contest is a full-length comedy by Beth Henley. Carnelle Scott is a small-town nobody, who wants to be Miss Firecracker, just like her cousin Elain, who won the crown at 17, attended junior college and went on to marry a rich husband. Will Carnelle become this year's Miss Firecracker? She'll pull out all the stops, and pull at your heartstrings along the way, as she discovers the true meaning of self-value and friendship.

The Miss Firecracker Contest is set in the small Mississippi town of Brookhaven. Central character Carnelle Scott, who is an orphan, was taken in by her Aunt Ronelle and raised with her two cousins, Elain and Delmount. The Fourth of July means it's time to crown the next Miss Firecracker. It's been a dream for Carnelle ever since she was a little girl and watched her beautiful cousin Elain win the glamorous coveted title at age 17, and the image of her, in her red dress, beaming and waving from atop her float, is burned into Carnelle's memory. Carnelle (known locally as "Miss Hot Tamale" for a past that she would like to forget) is rehearsing furiously for The Miss Firecracker Contest. What she lacks in polish, she makes up for in enthusiasm, hoping that a victory will salvage her tarnished reputation and allow her to leave town in a 'crimson blaze of glory.' The unexpected arrival of her cousin Elain (who has walked out on her rich but boring husband and her two small children), and Elain's brother Delmount, who has recently gotten out of the state mental hospital (it was a bad rap) threatens to derail Carnelle’s total makeover. Wandering into the chaos is Popeye, Carnelle's nearsighted seamstress, who falls in love with Delmount. But, aided by several other cheerfully nutty characters, Carnelle perseveres – leading to a climax of of unparalleled hilarity, compassion and a firework-worthy finish as all concerned finally escape their unhappy pasts and turn hopefully toward what must surely be a better future. The followup to her Pulitzer Prize-winning Crimes of the Heart, this explosively funny play teems with memorable characters and demonstrates yet again author's unique gift for finding rich lodes of humour – and simple wisdom – in the zany activities of small-town life.

The Miss Firecracker Contest premiered in 1980 at the Victory Theater in Los Angeles. A long-run Off-Broadway success, it got a production at the Manhattan Theatre Club off-Broadway in 1984 and moved to a larger off-Broadway house, the Westbank Theater, where it ran for a year. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and has become a popular choice for school and community theatre productions.

Cast: 4 female, 2 male

What people say:

"…the evening's torrential downpour of humor – alternately Southern-Gothic absurdist, melancholy and broad – almost never subsides." — New York Times

"…there is a story, with suspense and conflict – but where it shines is in the imagination of the playwright, in the characters she has created, in the strangeness and depth of their emotions, in the lines written for them to speak, and in her own astonishing, humorous vision." — The New Yorker

"It's a comic volcano of a play, populated by offbeat, but vital, larger-than-life characters…." — The Hollywood Reporter

"These are obviously the kinds of roles actors can happily chomp on…." — Time Magazine

About the Playwright:

Beth Henley is an award-winning American playwright, screenwriter, and professor best known for her play Crimes of the Heart (Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best American Play). Her plays have been produced on Broadway and continue to be well-received and widely popular, both in professional and regional theatres throughout the United States as well as internationally and translated into twelve languages.

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