“Miss Firecracker Contest,” by the Bay Street Players, in Eustis, is a dramatic evaluation of a dysfunctional Southern family trying to resolve years of family problems. Act 1 is in the home where Carnelle (Lexie Hoag) was raised. Carnelle, who was orphaned and taken in by her aunt who is now deceased, wants to enter the Fourth of July beauty contest.
She works to improve her tap dancing routine, which is falling short of perfection, but wants to prove herself to the town that she is beautiful, a valuable person and changed from her scandalous history. Her friend, Popeye (Christie Jenson), is a seamstress who tries to build Carnelle’s confidence and is making her performance costumes. (“Popeye” came from an eye injury when she used ear drops instead of eye drops and her eyes swelled up).
Elaine (Laura Law) is Carnelle’s cousin that married well but had an unhappy marriage and returns to the homestead. She had been Miss Firecracker in her teens and is not very encouraging to Carnelle. Delmont (Matt Militano) is Elaine’s brother and has just been released from a mental institution due to some serious scandals. Delmont wants to sell the house and everything in it.
Act 2 is at the park and an old friend, Mac Sam (Mark Anthony Kelley), tries to bolster Carnelle’s hopes. (Mac Sam was a victim of Carnelle’s philandering and given a venereal disease by her but still offers support). Tessy (Kelly K) is the pageant director and was seduced by Delmont in the past but still has a lust for him. The play reveals some dark secrets and emotions that become the basis of the character interactions.
The scenery designer does a grand job of setting the stage for a home (Act 1) and redesigning it for the park (Act 2).
“Miss Firecracker Contest” runs through May 20. Tickets are available at https://www.baystreetplayers.org/
Villager Don Simson reviews local theater for Villages-News.com