Miss Teen Jesus Pageant

Disclaimer:  This show clearly has a target audience.  I am not in that target.  If you enjoy jokes about drag queens, jokes about ridiculous evangelical preachers, or jokes about JR’s Bar on 16th Street, this show might be for you.  There were clearly people in the audience tonight who enjoyed it (some even gave it a standing ovation.)  But …

Holy Crap!  And by that I mean that Miss Teen Jesus Pageant is a lot of crap about some holy stuff.  This play is a 120-minute bout of silliness that has liberated itself from the “pointless” confines of plot and structure and intentionality.  To say this play is a rough draft is generous.  It feels more like an idea that seemed really funny at 3:00 am and which got turned into a play later that same day.  Miss Tean was high school-ish in all the worst ways.  There were more missed cues than laugh lines.  There were more inexplicable plot points than there were coherent moments.  The playwrights (Ferinelli Sensino and Lobo Lagodi*) may had had a point to make, but they have hidden it beneath so many unintelligible twists and turns that it was impossible to discern.

The description of the play on the Fringe Web site sounded interesting.  That’s why I wanted to see this show.  “Two gay dads stage and rig a teen beauty pageant to get their daughter into Bible college”=”surefire hilarity” in my book any day.  How can they screw this up?  When we saw a scene from this show at last Monday’s Fringe Preview press conference, I started to get nervous.  But I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt (it was a rough venue to perform in, and they did have a few more days to rehearse).  But from the moment that the pianist started to miss notes in the overture, I knew we were in for a long night.

The play may have something to say about religion, but I don’t know what it is.  It was impossible to tell where it fell on the religion-is-good vs. religion-is-the-root-or-all-evil spectrum.  The play seems to make fun of it a lot, but the one redeeming character (Mary, played by Avina Turner) is church-going.  I guess I’d call it “Church-sploitation”.   It made fun of the Church – like it made fun of gays, immigrants, Jews: without discrimination or purpose.  This was not thoughtful satire, but rather mindless drek.  The plot was so weakly pieced together that at many moments I was so busy asking myself, “what the heck are they doing”, that I probably missed another two or three wayward plot points.  While I got the gist of every scene (and easily predicted every turn) I had trouble discerning any of the finer points or their motivation.

The show is not without its stars. Lobo Lagodi is fairly funny as the horndog preacher, Reverend Feltwell Jr., and Peter Packin is quite amusing in his musical dance number as the drag queen Chris.  By comparison to some of the other performances, these are nearly brilliant.  Turner is charmingly sweet as Mary.  But none of this does much to redeem a doomed production.  I’d like to talk about the modern arrangements of the classic Christian hymns that they used as their musical numbers, but they were so bad that I can’t even find the words.

As I said up top, I’m sure this play would work for someone.  There is a certain, fringe-y quality to it that some might find appealing.  All I know is that it certainly wasn’t for me.  The director said that they may go to hell for writing this play.  I don’t know about that, but I sure felt like I was there while watching it.

Note – The Program lists stage names for many of the actors, and the director told me that these were the names by which they would like to be referred.

The Miss Teen Jesus Pageant

Directed by Patrick Dibattista
Produced by LaGoDi Productions and the Shark Tank Players
Reviewed by Josh Fixler (aka 20Something)

Running time:  2 hours

Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.

Did you see the show?  What did you think?

Comments

  1. Johnathan T says:

    I agree that it has target audience, but disagree with the rest of the commentary.  This FRINGE show had me laughing my butt off.  It is really  FRINGE at its best.  And yes, it is the FRINGE festival.  If you wanted Phantom of the Opera, he should have gone to Broadway.  I’m glad the author of this article can boost his career by being negative on what is actually a playful and hilarious show.  If you like NASCAR and getting fat off of lard-dipped doritos, this is not for you. If you are hip, cool, gay, or a hag, you will certainly love this and walk out with a huge smile on your face. 

  2. Booty Shakin' says:

    I loved the play!!  I just bought tickets to the last show.  I heard it’s going to be GREAT!!
     
    By the way, I’m hip, cool…and gay!  Yay!  :)

  3. We loved the show.  Booo to Josh Fixler for letting his personal feelings and discomfort with gay subject matter rather than the quality of the Miss Teen Jesus Pageant influence his rating of this hilarious show.  A rating of “1″?  You’ve got to be kidding. The other 100 people in the audience who were howling with laughter certainly disagreed with you. But more disturbing is your abandonment of journalistic ethics. It’s your responsibility as a reviewer to provide a critique of the play on its own merits and not use this blog as a forum to express your homophobia. Your “disclaimer” about not being the “target audience” was code for “I’m uncomfortable as a straight man being aroused by beautiful cross dressing drag queens.” Why did some of the audience members give the show a standing ovation? It’s your job as a critic to try to understand that and tell us what moved them. Your inability to see that this show was a both a satire of the human condition and ultimately an affirmation of acts of kindness that reveal the divine in all of us is the real travesty. DCTS, where did you dig up this blind, deaf, and dumb bum steer of a wannabe critic?

  4. Jerry Pete says:

    I saw this show. I am hip cool and gay.  I was there with a large group of gay friends. Let me say that being gay was not enough to provide the viewer with any special insight into WTF the Director by Patrick Dibattista ot  LaGoDi Productions and the Shark Tank Players were trying to do here.  I made a commitment this year to seeing a lot of Fringe Festival shows and did not expect them all to be great – but this was really extra disappointing.  From the time that we were presented with a program that was confusing and mocked the reader’s intelligence we were in trouble. Though I can understand now why the actors probably don’t want their names associated with this production.   The fragmented story line was extra lame – there were so many loose ends that I can only think the writer was lazy and the director did not care.  It was not a matter of needing gay sensibility, as though there is some kind of gay secret knowledge that is not accessible to anyone who would make the commitment to see this show.  I agree 100% with Josh Fixler’s review of this show. If you are looking for a show that has drag elements that are just confused with no purpose in a great venue maybe this is for you.  I would suggest looking elsewhere.  I can’t understand what the standing ovation was for.  At the time I was watching it and thought these people must be related to the cast members.  Either that or it must be because they are so happy it is over.  By the way – the ending also made no sense.   The 1 score was well deserved for this dragged out fiasco.  My group of gay friends also thought this was was a train wreck.
    On a positive note, Peter Packin was the best in show with his musical dance number as the drag queen Chris.

  5. I hate to be a hater, but …
    This was the longest, most excruciating night I’ve spent in a theatre in a long, long time.  There were times I literally could not even look at the stage, and rather spent my time surveying the audience, most of whom registered shock, disbelief, and boredom all mixed together in a toxic stew.
    It was just embarrassingly bad, and not even in a so-bad-it-was-good kinda way.

  6. I saw this play and thought it was quite funny. Since the play was just over an hour long I have a hard time believing this play could have been the ‘longest, most excruciating night’ someone has spent. Of course this play wasn’t Broadway material but I highly doubt that is what the actors were trying create. It looked like the play was meant to make the audience laugh and they really did make me laugh! Thanks Miss Teen Jesus!

  7. SHenderson says:

    This play was soo cute! It seems I’m not the only one who feels this critic has something personal against the play. I laughed, I smiled, I laughed again! Bravo! Brava! (Not such which applies to which actors, hehe)

  8. Talk about holier than thou!  Yeah, I’m thinking you weren’t in the “target audience” — or you would know that JR’s Bar is on 17th street, not 16th street.  Were you even at the right show?  I went to the opening night show and really, really enjoyed the play! 
     
    I think you may have had some unnecessary expectations going in.  It is a light and fun parody that even pokes fun at itself from time to time, with a barrage of physical and visual gags that kept us laughing throughout the show.  Some of my favorite parts where when the retired drag queen gets one more shot at glory, the drunk televangelist gets a visit from God, and when we get the lecture about brand Jesus.
     
    I definitely recommend this show.  It’s Fringe material for sure, so expect a few rough edges.  I’m not sure that it really has a lot to say about religion, but I do think it has something to say about helping others and the relationship that individuals have with the church (including LGBT individuals in particular). 
     
    And about your “target audience,” the one that enjoys jokes about draq queens and JR’s?  You may want to keep the creeping homophobia more contained in the next review. 
     
    P.S. — to Jerry’s comment about the program, I just figured it was one more parody, and I thought it helped set the tone for the play.

  9. I definitely enjoyed it!!!! The production was not he best but the talent shown and the fact that I was entertained is what matters to me. I would watch the show again…Don’t be discouraged, guys. Great job…!!!!

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