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Carnelle Scott [female], the play’s protagonist, works in a jewelry store and has low self-esteem. Orphaned and having been surrounded by death all her life, Carnelle is attempting to make sense out of her life and establish her own identity. In an attempt to be patriotic for the beauty pageant, she dyes her hair bright red. Her tenacity evokes the loyalty of family and friends, who admire her spunk.
Popeye Jackson [female], a seamstress, is a small, glowing person who wears thick glasses with heavy black rims. While making Cornelle’s costume, she is caught up in the pageant madness. A unique character with a hard life, she got her nickname from a childhood prank which caused her eyes to bulge, leaving her with the ability to hear through her eyes. She is semi-literate, naive, kind, and curious about everything. This role can be played by an actress of any ethnic origin.
Elain Rutledge [female], Carnelle’s cousin and role model, could be described as beautiful but her beauty is rapidly fading. She did everything her mother expected by going to college and parleying her beauty into marriage with a rich man. Yet she feels suffocated by her life and returns home with the intention of leaving her husband and children because she doesn’t like them.
Delmont Williams [male], Elain’s brother, returns to town to sell his mother’s house. Perhaps more realistic than the rest of his family, he is unstable with a history of rash actions. He also has an obsession with erotic beauty, yet he has a sensible distain for the phoniness of the pageant. He entrances Popeye with his ability to wiggle his ears and write poetry.
Mac Sam [male], known as the balloon man, is one of Carnelle’s former lovers. He seems to truly care about her and cheers her on as she competes in the beauty contest. Sam is thin and stoop-shouldered, and in drastically poor health; he is tired of life.
Tessie Mahoney [female], the beauty contest coordinator, is not a beauty herself: the uglier of T. S. Mahoney’s two ugly daughters. She covers up her bitterness by being as sweet as she can be.
The director will try to structure the rehearsal schedule so that rehearsals will be spread out to only three a week until the final two weeks of production.
The Miss Firecracker Contest takes place iin the small Mississippi town of Brookhaven, a few days before the Fourth of July. Carnelle Scott (known locally as “Miss Hot Tamale”) is rehearsing furiously for the Miss Firecracker Contest—hoping that a victory will salvage her tarnished reputation and allow her to leave town in a blaze of glory. The unexpected arrival of her cousin Elain, a former Miss Firecracker winner, (who has walked out on her rich but boring husband and her two small children) complicates matters a bit, as does the repeated threat of Elain’s eccentric brother, Delmount, (recently released from a mental institution) to sell the family homestead and decamp for New Orleans. But, aided by a touchingly awkward seamstress named Popeye (who is hopelessly smitten by Delmount) and several other cheerfully nutty characters, Carnelle perseveres—leading to a denouement of unparalleled hilarity, compassion and moving lyricism as all concerned finally escape their unhappy pasts and turn hopefully toward what must surely be a better future.
The Miss Firecracker Contest will run June 13-15th and June 19-22.