In the season of Miss America and the #MeToo movement, the pageant world is ripe for satire, and that’s just what CLOSE YOUR LEGS, HONEY tackles in a charming, unexpected fringe-worthy way with singing and dancing and pre-show refreshments.
Co-created by Hannah Parke and Shamus Hunter McCarty, under the aegis of Philly Improv Theater, the show takes a few unexpected twists and turns in dealing with societal expectations of what a good girl should be, when inside her own mind she’s a “karate-baker-astronaut” ready to take off.
The central concept of grown women playing 11-year-old pageant darlings works and sets you up to know that what you see is not necessarily what you get, especially since some of parts are played by other actors at other performances. The darlings, Baby (Claris Park), Angel (Colleen Murphy), Sweetie (Kendyll Young or Jenna Kuerzi) maintain their youthful innocence, while astronaut-hopeful Honey (Parke) is all awkwardness and angst.
In this cut-throat pageant world, the women are the heroines as well as the villains. Mean girls and a desperate stage mama contrast with youthful confusion and resilience. A token male (Tyler S Elliott) hosts the proceedings and is appropriately awkward in almost every situation. Just when you think you know where this show is heading, it surprises you and takes you down an unexpected byway, handling difficult issues with a light touch. Overall, it’s a comedic look at the shit women have to put up with until they just can’t any more.
[The Adrienne, Center City] September 5-22, 2018; fringearts.com/event/close-your-legs-honey-a-new-musical