Published by The Oklahoman – Read original article here

Originally published on January 23, 2015

Photo -  James Michael Avance before his transformation into becoming Miss West Coast, a competitor for the Miss Glamouresse title in the musical “Pageant.”   <strong>PAUL HELLSTERN -  Oklahoman </strong>

PAGEANT

The musical comedy “Pageant,” a riotous spoof of beauty contests, opens at Lyric at the Plaza in Oklahoma City this week. In this comedy by Albert Evans, Bill Russell and Frank Kelly, the six women vying for the Miss Glamouresse crown are all played by men.

Tune in to a televised beauty pageant, and you’ll likely see behind-the-scenes shots of contestants getting ready for their moment in the spotlight. Whether applying mascara or making sure their evening gowns don’t get caught in their high heels, these women are the epitome of beauty and poise.

James Michael Avance before his transformation into becoming Miss West Coast, a competitor for the Miss Glamouresse title in the musical “Pageant.” PAUL HELLSTERN – Oklahoman
It’s much the same in the musical comedy “Pageant,” a riotous spoof of beauty contests that opens at Lyric at the Plaza this week. But in this comedy by Albert Evans, Bill Russell and Frank Kelly, the six women vying for the Miss Glamouresse crown are all played by men.

I recently watched one of the actors learn how to apply his makeup for the first time. Ryan Wood – a young man who knows firsthand about such challenges (he’s the reigning Miss Gay Oklahoma, part of a female impersonation pageant system) – assisted James Michael Avance with his transformation.

Preparation is key

Avance, a University of Central Oklahoma musical theater graduate who recently appeared in a national touring production of “The Addams Family,” will compete as Miss West Coast in Lyric’s production of “Pageant.”

“There’s such a lot of preparation that goes into playing a role like this,” Avance said. “Learning how to apply the makeup is something you have to keep working at. It takes longer to get ready for the show than the entire length of the show itself.”

After a close shave to remove any signs of stubble, a foundation is applied to Avance’s face. His eyebrows are then glued down and will eventually be covered by makeup. The reason? A woman’s eyebrows are higher and therefore must be drawn in.

“It’s important to know a person’s face,” Wood said as he applied Avance’s makeup using a variety of brushes. “You don’t want to go too dark or too heavy, and you have to accommodate their features. It gets easier with practice.”

Unfamiliar territory

While Avance and his fellow cast members are all familiar with applying stage makeup, this production takes the actors into unfamiliar territory. They have to transform themselves into believable-looking women.

“We’ve all joked about having to learn this process,” Avance said. “Besides the makeup, we’re also dealing with shaving, padding, wigs and costumes. You worry about looking good in the end.”

With each brushstroke, Avance begins to look more like a woman. A few final touches include the application of lipstick and putting on a blond wig.

“I’m Goldie Hawn,” he proclaims after catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. “It’s something Celine Dion might have done for one of her photos. It’s so Glamour Shots.”

Audience will judge

To avoid any whiff of favoritism, pageant judges are chosen from the audience. That means the outcome can vary significantly from one performance to the next. Avance says he hopes to gain a competitive edge with his acting, something his musical theater degree prepared him for.

“Miss West Coast may be a stereotypical dumb blonde, but deep down, she’s very smart and she knows what she’s doing,” Avance said of his character. ” I think her chances of winning are pretty good.”

Photo caption: James Michael Avance before his transformation into becoming Miss West Coast, a competitor for the Miss Glamouresse title in the musical “Pageant.” PAUL HELLSTERN – Oklahoman

 

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