Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Gumption rules

Gonzo Miss Firecracker Contest at New Village Arts crackles and pops

Samantha Ginn as Carnelle in The Miss Firecracker Contest at New Village Arts.
Samantha Ginn as Carnelle in The Miss Firecracker Contest at New Village Arts.

The Miss Firecracker Contest

Daren Scott’s directed how many shows? Less than a handful? His staging of Beth Henley’s gonzo comedy feels like the work of a seasoned pro. Not only has he served the play well, his cast has a palpable chemistry. They obviously enjoy making bold choices, and working together.

Which allows Samantha Ginn to cut loose as Carnelle Scott. One of the most honest actors around, Ginn doesn’t go beyond what she’s given. A less daring cast would have held her back. This crack ensemble, however, provides a runway for one of the year’s most soaring efforts.

Carnation “Carnelle” Scott, an orphan, grew up in the shadow of cousin Delmount, a loose cannon fresh from a mental institution, and cousin Elain, aka. “Miss Perfect”(she won Brookhaven’s Miss Firecracker Contest at age 17, youngest ever to hold the most coveted trophy in Southern Mississippi).

Lauren King in The Miss Firecracker Contest at New Village Arts.

Carnelle is Elain’s exact opposite. Now 24, she has a “reputation.” Where Elain was Miss Firecracker, Carnelle’s “Miss Hot Tamale.”

But Carnelle’s reformed. She swears she’s an ugly duckling. Her showcase: the beauty contest. If she wins, she’ll leave town “in a blaze of crimson glory.”

She’s got a chance. It looks like an off year (her closest competitor has yellow teeth). But maybe dying her long hair neon red wasn’t such a good idea, and her baton twirling lacks polish, and even her timing’s a mite strident. And why seek her identity by following Elain’s path?

But come on — gumption rules!

Ah, Beth Henley! Few American playwrights make the clash of hope vs. reality so vivid, funny, and moving. And, embedded in her gothic mini-tales (how aunt Roselle’s pituitary gland transplant from a monkey sprouted long black hair), are subtle probes of feminist concerns, in this case the ubiquitous male standard of blue-eyed, blond-haired beauty when the play premiered in 1980.

New Village reset Miss Firecracker in the “mid-Eighties.” To establish the period, Robert May’s sound-score includes music from the Pretenders and the Tube’s dazzler “She’s a Beauty!” — which nicely underscores Henley’s theme.

The cast is uniformly solid — and whacko — from Justin Lang’s hyperactive Delmount, to Eddie Yaroch’s sane/looney Mac Sam (a walking ugly pageant, in whom six or eight terminal illnesses compete to finish first) to Kristin Woodburn’s Elain (especially when in doubt) and Lauren King’s officious Tessy.

If it weren’t Carnelle’s show, Melissa Coleman-Reed’s Popeye Jackson would steal it. Not that she’s trying. Popeye is pure Beth Henley: an African-American, near-blind seamstress, she even makes clothes for frogs (like that little nurse’s suit). Coleman-Reed gives a detailed, funny, and convincing portrait of a woman who follows her convictions with courage, regardless of social barriers.

And Samantha Ginn? Backed by a stage-wide American flag, she often plays front (the audience is her mirror) and disappears throughout. Instead, Carnelle gives us a moment-by-moment fluctuation of her feelings, from obsessive-compulsive determination to full, spotlit, heartbreaking vulnerability.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

John Wayne and a latex octopus

More Cecil B. DeMille than Emily Brontë
Samantha Ginn as Carnelle in The Miss Firecracker Contest at New Village Arts.
Samantha Ginn as Carnelle in The Miss Firecracker Contest at New Village Arts.

The Miss Firecracker Contest

Daren Scott’s directed how many shows? Less than a handful? His staging of Beth Henley’s gonzo comedy feels like the work of a seasoned pro. Not only has he served the play well, his cast has a palpable chemistry. They obviously enjoy making bold choices, and working together.

Which allows Samantha Ginn to cut loose as Carnelle Scott. One of the most honest actors around, Ginn doesn’t go beyond what she’s given. A less daring cast would have held her back. This crack ensemble, however, provides a runway for one of the year’s most soaring efforts.

Carnation “Carnelle” Scott, an orphan, grew up in the shadow of cousin Delmount, a loose cannon fresh from a mental institution, and cousin Elain, aka. “Miss Perfect”(she won Brookhaven’s Miss Firecracker Contest at age 17, youngest ever to hold the most coveted trophy in Southern Mississippi).

Lauren King in The Miss Firecracker Contest at New Village Arts.

Carnelle is Elain’s exact opposite. Now 24, she has a “reputation.” Where Elain was Miss Firecracker, Carnelle’s “Miss Hot Tamale.”

But Carnelle’s reformed. She swears she’s an ugly duckling. Her showcase: the beauty contest. If she wins, she’ll leave town “in a blaze of crimson glory.”

She’s got a chance. It looks like an off year (her closest competitor has yellow teeth). But maybe dying her long hair neon red wasn’t such a good idea, and her baton twirling lacks polish, and even her timing’s a mite strident. And why seek her identity by following Elain’s path?

But come on — gumption rules!

Ah, Beth Henley! Few American playwrights make the clash of hope vs. reality so vivid, funny, and moving. And, embedded in her gothic mini-tales (how aunt Roselle’s pituitary gland transplant from a monkey sprouted long black hair), are subtle probes of feminist concerns, in this case the ubiquitous male standard of blue-eyed, blond-haired beauty when the play premiered in 1980.

New Village reset Miss Firecracker in the “mid-Eighties.” To establish the period, Robert May’s sound-score includes music from the Pretenders and the Tube’s dazzler “She’s a Beauty!” — which nicely underscores Henley’s theme.

The cast is uniformly solid — and whacko — from Justin Lang’s hyperactive Delmount, to Eddie Yaroch’s sane/looney Mac Sam (a walking ugly pageant, in whom six or eight terminal illnesses compete to finish first) to Kristin Woodburn’s Elain (especially when in doubt) and Lauren King’s officious Tessy.

If it weren’t Carnelle’s show, Melissa Coleman-Reed’s Popeye Jackson would steal it. Not that she’s trying. Popeye is pure Beth Henley: an African-American, near-blind seamstress, she even makes clothes for frogs (like that little nurse’s suit). Coleman-Reed gives a detailed, funny, and convincing portrait of a woman who follows her convictions with courage, regardless of social barriers.

And Samantha Ginn? Backed by a stage-wide American flag, she often plays front (the audience is her mirror) and disappears throughout. Instead, Carnelle gives us a moment-by-moment fluctuation of her feelings, from obsessive-compulsive determination to full, spotlit, heartbreaking vulnerability.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

A taste of New Orleans on the corner of Louisiana Street

Louisiana Purchase offers chargrilled oysters, gumbo, and fried crab legs
Next Article

Legacy International Center: the inverted cathedral

“Just as folks go to Sea World or the Zoo, it’s just another interesting item that they can come to.”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close