Monday, April 29, 2019

Bootless Hosts Parody of Child Pageantry with "Honey"

By Mike Logothetis
"Logo" grew up in North Wilmington, performing in school and local theater productions. He lives in Newark, but you can find him wherever the arts are good.


Over the weekend (April 26-28, 2019), Trolley Square’s underground theater, Bootless Stageworks, offered its space to stage a very funny new musical called Close Your Legs, Honey. From Friday night through the Sunday matinee, a pre-teen beauty pageant was taking place in the basement of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church.

The show follows girls in a Tennessee pageant as they dance, sing, answer interview questions, pose for the judges, and spend time backstage. In the cut-throat world of child pageants, the young ladies are the heroines as well as the villains in this short musical. But the focus is on little Honey and her commanding “Mama,” who was a beauty queen in her youth.

Show co-creator Hannah Parke plays the titular Honey perfectly. In Honey, we see a child trying to please her demanding mother (Katherine Perry) as well as step forward in her own voice. Honey has an innocent, but independent streak and can’t always understand why the other pageant girls don’t really like her. Jenna Kuerzi (Sweetie), Colleen Murphy (Angel), and Kendyll Young (Baby) act wonderfully as foils to Parke’s Honey. Each girl has her own personality quirks and demons.

Smarmy host (Grant Struble) keeps the action rolling, introducing each segment of the pageant. A lot of the fun comes through visions provided by Mama’s “go-go juice.” Each time she and/or Honey sip a little too much, Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton (Camille E. Young) appears before them. Dolly has some of the best songs in the show and commands the stage, just like in real life.

The physical humor in the show was outstanding. Having adults portray children’s eccentricities in a blocked and choreographed musical is not easy. Movements need to be precise and children are anything but that. The women portraying the pageant girls were off-step as contestants, but right on cue when backstage 
 i.e., not being judged. Kudos to director/co-creator Shamus Hunter McCarty and choreographer Dana Kreitz for their work portraying little kids doing anything to please adults.

The final musical number has the pageant girls rejecting the pageant system and their parents to rebelliously embrace who they are. But who’s the pageant winner? In the end, the audience wins and the cast and crew deserve a big round of applause.

Bootless Stageworks did not produce this traveling show, but offered its space to share the fun with Delawareans lucky enough to have attended. The book, music, and lyrics to Close Your Legs, Honey were written by Parke and McCarty. Orchestrations and arrangements were by Damien Figueras and Matthew Mastronardi provided additional music. Eleanor Safer was the stage manager for this short theatrical run in Wilmington. It’s no surprise the show was a hit at the 2018 Philadelphia Fringe Festival.

For more information on the musical, visit www.closeyourlegshoney.com.

Bootless is a collaborative group of self-proclaimed theater geeks that are always looking for the strange, unusual, weird 
 but always entertaining — adventure in live theater, comedy and music. 

Visit www.bootless.org for a list of future events and shows.

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