BLT opens with a ‘bang’

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The cast of “really quirky characters” in Bainbridge Little Theatre’s “The Miss Firecracker Contest” makes the play fun and fast moving. Front, left to right are: Grace Nettles, Brittany Morrow, and Ida Cooksey. Back, Thaddeus Nifong, Misty Brown and Richard Whitehead. The play opens Thursday and continues through the weekend.|Carolyn Iamon

Set in the deep South, where pageants are prime, “The Miss Firecracker Contest,” Bainbridge Little Theatre’s season opener, is described as a Southern comedy — with redemptive virtues.

Winning the Fourth of July beauty and talent contest is the dream of every young girl in the little Mississippi town; but especially for Carnelle Scott, (locally known as “Miss Hot Tamale”), played by Brittany Morrow. She hopes that if she can only win the pageant it will somehow restore her tarnished reputation and prove that she is a person of value.

The unexpected arrival of her cousin Elain (played by Misty Brown), a former winner of the contest, causes Carnelle to have serious self-doubts, while the repeated threat of Elain’s eccentric brother, Delmount played by Richard Whitehead, sets the household and Carnelle in an uproar. Delmount, recently released from a mental institution, has announced plans to sell the family homestead.

Email newsletter signup

Ida Cooksey adds a crazy country flair to her role as pageant seamstress. Aptly named “Popeye,” she fancies herself in love with the irrational Delmount.

Grace Nettles plays Tessy, the flashy pageant contest coordinator, while Thad Nifong plays Mac Sam, carnival balloon man of the pageant and the 36 year-old ex-lover of Carnelle.

Asked about her role, Morrow said she likes and relates to her character “a lot.”

“She and I both have a lot of issues concerning our appearance,” Morrow said, with a shy smile.

Whitehead said it is fantastic fun to play a role like his. “You can just go all out and get completely involved in it,” he said.
That appears to be the purpose of all the actors in this show. They pull out all the stops in portraying their quirky characters, thus promising a fun evening of entertainment for theater-goers.

The production is under the direction of Pamela Barnes, who has appeared on the BLT stage in several memorable roles, most recently as the scheming and embittered orphanage director, Miss Hannigan, in “Annie.” Her direction credits include last year’s fast-paced comedy, “Birthday Suite.”

Barnes said she chose to direct the Firecracker Contest, because it has real-life family drama portrayed with humor.
“This play has, what I like to call ‘great meat,’ in the story,” she said.

The play, authored by Beth Henley, who also penned “Crimes of the Heart,” appeared on Broadway in 1984. In 1989 it was made into a movie, titled Miss Firecracker, starring Holly Hunter in the leading role, along with co-stars Mary Steenburgen and Tim Robbins.

The show opens on the BLT stage on Thursday, Sept. 27, and runs through Sunday, Sept. 30, with evening performances at 7:30 p.m., and a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the door, based on availability; but to ensure a ticket and desired seating, reservations are recommended. They can be made online at; by phone at (229) 246-8345 (Mon.-Fri. 1-6 p.m.) or email