The Miss Firecracker Contest
by Beth Henley
Directed by Phillip J. Shortell
It’s early July in the tiny town of Brookhaven, Mississippi, just days before their annual “Miss Firecracker” contest. Local beauty Carnelle Scott believes that winning the “Miss Firecracker” title will salvage her tarnished reputation (she’s known locally as “Miss Hot Tamale”), and allow her to leave town in a blaze of beauty pageant glory. Things get complicated, though, when Carnelle’s cousin Elain (a former “Miss Firecracker” herself) arrives unexpectedly and announces she has left her rich (but boring) husband and her two children. Toss in Elain’s highly unstable brother Delmount, an eccentric costumer called ‘Popeye’ who claims she hears things through her eyes, and other unusual small-town characters, and Carnelle’s “Miss Firecracker” dream turns a little nightmarish!
A long-run Off-Broadway success, The Miss Firecracker Contest is an explosively funny play that mines rich lodes of humor and simple wisdom in the zany activities of small-town life. The NY Times said “…the evening’s torrential downpour of humor—alternately Southern-Gothic absurdist, melancholy and broad—almost never subsides.” The New Yorker said The Miss Firecracker Contest “…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 Miss Firecracker Contest is written in author Beth Henley’s “Southern Gothic” style created in her well-known 1981 play Crimes of The Heart (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama). Her distinctive writing combines laughter, warmth, and hope in stories of small town Mississippi. Miss Henley also adapted The Miss Firecracker Contest into a 1989 feature film starring Holly Hunter.
The Adobe Theater’s talented cast includes Janine O’Neill (Carnelle), Micah Linford (Delmount), Sheridan K. Johnson (Elain), Sandra Williams (Popeye), Paul Hunton (Mac Sam) and Kristina Caffrey (Tessy).
The Miss Firecracker Contest is directed by Philip J. Shortell, most recently seen at The Adobe in The Sunshine Boys, and in other Albuquerque theaters in Death of A Salesman, All My Sons, Juno and the Paycock, and James Cady’s Hamlet.
The Miss Firecracker Contest opened at The Adobe Theater on Friday, October 30th and ran 4 weekends through Sunday, November 22nd.
9813 4th St. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87114