The Price of Pageantry

By Dan and Alison Tingley


Pageant Play, written by Matthew Wilkas and Mark Setlock, is playing at PACA (1505 State Street, Erie, PA). Relatively new, the show premiered in 2008. It’s a satirical examination of beauty pageants.

Directed by Jeff Rodland, Pageant Play is a story about the world of child beauty pageants and just how crazy some people can become. The show opens with finesse coaches Bob and Bobby introducing us to their seminar entitled “Is My Child a Pageant Queen and if not, Can I Make Her One?” They have a five-step program that can make any little girl a beauty queen. Pinky sure believes they can do it for her daughter, Chevrolet. Pinky, a former beauty queen herself, always wins the pageants until Marge and her daughter, Puddle, arrive on the scene. As the competition heats up, we get a glimpse into the private lives of Pinky and Marge and their respective husbands, Gunnar and Buddy, and we get some insight into their motivation to win at all costs.

Pageant Play features four actors:  Leslie Ford (Pinky), Amy Gilewicz Fuchs (Marge/Pinky’s Mother), Alex Bolla (Bob/Gunnar), and Sean Morgan (Bobby/Buddy). Morgan plays his roles well. He does a fine job of playing the straight man to Bolla’s character, which is not an easy task.

Bolla does an excellent job with both of his very different characters. He seamlessly goes from hen-pecked husband, to spineless and flamboyant business partner, to a guy who isn’t going to take any more crap. He’s fun to watch as his character grows during the production.

Fuchs plays a very complex character with seemingly effortless finesse. Her character might be the most messed-up of them all. Fuchs shows us that she can admirably tackle a very physical role. Wearing character-appropriate costumes, she downplays her character’s comedic lines making her lines that much funnier. In a strange way, her character is quite moving.

Ford really shines in this production. With perfect facial expressions, she shows a range of emotions. She goes from innocent child to conniving bitch in 90 seconds flat. (Dan thinks Alison can do that, too. But maybe not on stage.) Ford impeccably plays a very strong and complex character. She also handles the physical demands of her character exceptionally well.

The props and minimalist set work very well. The music used during the show is well chosen. The two children are played by dresses on hangers, which is itself a fantastic commentary about the lives of pageant children.

Pageant Play runs on weekends at PACA through January 26. With outstanding direction, Pageant Play is entertaining and very cute. There are a lot of twists and turns in this production. This show contains some strong language, so don’t take the kids or the easily offended. If you’re not a child and not easily offended, you should check it out. For reservations or more information, visit




One thought on “The Price of Pageantry

  • February 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I enjoy reading Alison and Dan’s reviews. They seem fair and impartial and tell it like it is. And I do like their humorous comments that they inject into each of their reviews. Keep up the good work.

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