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Theater Fri May 31 2013

Critic's Choice: The Miss Neo Pageant

Miss Neo horiz 1.jpeg
"I'm sorry I slept with your boyfriend," she says. "But, if it's any consolation, I had diarrhea that day."

"I'm sorry I didn't love you for who you are," she says.

"I'm sorry," she says.

The woman (Molly Plunk) is a contestant in The Miss Neo Pageant, the Neo Futurist's newest show, playing through June 22 on Thursdays -- Saturdays at 7:30pm. We have already seen Plunk dance, in a swimsuit -- her pageantry side. Now, it's more intimate. Created by Megan Mercier and directed by Stephanie Shaw, the show is a deconstruction of an ideal. The show gives us pageantry, but also flip(pers) it.

The other Miss Neo contestants (six in total) are woman with titles like "Miss Crispy" (Leah Rose Urzendowski Courser) who reminds me of P!nk in the best possible ways, "Miss Unbridled Rage" (Jessica Anne) responsible for a hilarious and real take-down of Anne Hathaway, and "Miss Not Gonna Cry" (Tif Harrison). The pageant has swimsuits and costume changes and Rockettes-style kick lines. It has Q&A rounds with randomly chosen female audience members, panty-trees, and feminism. The show explores female interactions while still competing against each other, mostly for attention, you know, the way girls are taught to interact with each other.

The entire cast is fearless, like literally. We see Plunk, the tallest of the group, walk across a slack-rope, suspended a good distance above the ground. The rope shook beneath her feet and everyone in the Neo Futurarium held our collective breaths. Courser performs this intense workout/dance/hate-session with a gigantic tire, a performance that is just as sexy as it is strong.

A thing that I love about a Neo-Futurist production is how well stage-time and dialogue are handled; we get to see different facets of each of these women and it doesn't feel overly focused on anyone. We get to see their personalities. The characters aren't easy - at times they are inspiring and bold, other-times unhinged. The women show their power, a collective and transformative power. Even through the tiara-haze of competition the Miss Neo contestants come together to help each other determine what Shania Twain really meant when she sang "man, I feel like a woman."

The Miss Neo Pageant runs through June 22: Thurs/Fri/Sat at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20, $10 for students/seniors with ID, or pay-what-you-can on Thursdays. All performances take place at The Neo-Futurarium, 5153 N. Ashland Ave. For tickets or information, visit www.neofuturists.org or call 773-275-5255.

photo credit: Maggie Fullilove-Nugent

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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