Fringe Review: Little Miss Fringe Festival
I started watching Dance Moms because Toddlers & Tiaras looked too creepy. Then Dance Moms got too ugly, so I switched to … um, Toddlers & Tiaras. Now I’ve seen Little Miss Fringe Festival, and I’m thinking I should probably be on a list somewhere.
Jeff Jones plays our host, a sleazy kids’-pageant impresario who’s sort of like Marcus Bachmann trapped in Wayne Newton’s body. (Not that Marcus Bachmann would probably mind being trapped in Wayne Newton’s body, but I digress.) On the eve of a big competition, a freak accident claims the lives of all the contestants, sending our embattled emcee scrambling to fill the empty slots with the finest — actually, the only — runway-walking tykes Craigslist has to offer.
The contestants are played by three adult cross-dressers and one guest celebrity. The lineup changes for every performance; the show I caught featured Doug Ba’aser, Gidget Galore, Addison Taylor and Blue. All four had clearly studied their pageant-reality programs carefully (have fun joining me on that list, folks), resulting in plenty of witheringly accurate megawatt dimples and painfully frozen grins. As for the “talent” portion of the evening – well, there’s nothing like hearing a freakishly huge moppet bellow “Sit!” at a performing dog that, she has failed to realize, is stone cold dead.
While the show dawdles a bit at first, it’s buoyed by several very smart choices. I’m normally wary of videotaped segments in Fringe productions, but the backstage “interviews” with the contestants’ mothers flesh out the real-time competition wonderfully. And the trio of guest judges (also different at every performance) who lob questions at the contestants receive no advance preparation or warning, which means their horror is as real as ours.
Little Miss Fringe Festival can get away with murder because it parodies an outrageous phenomenon (pageant-reality programming) that is itself a mirror of an outrageous phenomenon (the pageants themselves). So when I heard Ba’aser’s character described as a Cambodian tsunami refugee who had floated ashore in a Styrofoam ice chest – and whose name, in fact, may be the Cambodian word for “girl floating in Styrofoam ice chest” – I was able to guffaw loudly and without guilt.
That’s my story, anyway. Hey, only three weeks ’til the Zimmerman trial! Who’s making s’mores?
Mo Laughs Comedy (Orlando, FL)
Rating: M (Adult language, Mature themes, Sexual content)
Run Time: 80 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Pageant Spoof
Websites – www.littlemissfringefestival.com
Tue, May 21 2013, 11 p.m.
Thu, May 23 2013, 11:15 p.m.
Sat, May 25, 9 p.m.
Sun, May 26, 6 p.m.