GOLDEN GATE — There's a Puddle in the middle of the stage at the Golden Gate Community Center. This particular Puddle is blue, with silver sequins. At the moment, she's a little bedraggled and has toppled over, oblivious to the hive of activity around her.
A few feet away, a bright pink Chevrolet sits pertly upright in frilly polka dots. Chevrolet takes in the action mutely. Like the rest of us, she looks like she could use a cookie and a juice box.
Meet Puddle Jackson and Chevrolet Corningfield, the baby beauty pageant queens of Let's Put On A Show Productions' inaugural production, "Pageant Play."
Only, audiences never actually meet the tiara-clad toddlers. The girls are represented only by ball gowns - and are literally thrown around the stage by their hysterical, trophy-crazy mothers.
Let's Put On A Show co-founders Scott Lilly and Kevin Moriarty hope audience's pick up on the play's slightly warped sense of humor.
"The humor is over the top and somewhat campy," Moriarty said. "[It looks at] how the children are portrayed and how they are treated like a commodity."
"Pageant Play" sends up the child pageant world with a vengeance. Its dark humor starts where the excesses of reality TV staples like "Toddlers & Tiaras" and "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" end. Warring pageant mothers battle over hair extensions, breast implants, really tiny false teeth, glamour shots, outrageous dance routines and stage coaches preaching the "S-H-E-I-T" method.
The satirical material attracted the pair; they wanted to do a modern, topical play - but admit having "no idea" why people have such a fascination with child beauty pageants.
Lilly, who stepped into the role of Bobby after one of the original cast members became ill, points to the crazy characters behind the scenes as one of the elements that makes the play so much fun.
"[Look at] what lengths they will go to to achieve such things as fame," Lilly said.
Lilly and Carl Back play Bob and Bobby, two over-the-top male pageant coaches who run Touch the Sky and trawl motel ballrooms for over-moneyed women with too little common sense. As Lilly's character helpfully explains, their system stands for: "Smile, Hair, Eyes, Illusion and Talent."
"Bob and I are here to tell you that it doesn't really matter how ugly your little girl is; she can still win a crown. All it take is a little bit of magic."
"We hope it reads as a silly, dark-humored satire," Moriarty said.
Color will play a big part in this show. Almost everything on stage fairly vibrates from big, bold and loud. A shocking pink Hello Kitty! makeup case peeks out from behind a table. Lilly's outré "consultant" wears a bright yellow shirt, blue pants and a pink scarf. Flashbacks feature Southern-fried mothers sprawled on fainting couches swilling gin while wearing gold sequins and lounging on a pink and black leopard fur throw.
"We want color to be a factor," Moriarty said, smiling.
During a break, Moriarty goes on stage to talk to actresses Rachel Gallentine and Laura Lorusso, who play dueling divas Pinky and Marge. Pinky, Marge and their respective offspring are headed for a showdown at the Texas Twinkle, the Pretty Princess, and then the Little Miss Alabama Haystack.
While he talks, he kneels in what was once an office chair before the sad cubicle dweller was violently rejuvenated with a coat of red lacquer that wouldn't look out of place in a boudoir. Wheels, casters, cushions and arms radiate the red of plush lips as Moriarty swings back and forth.
"The whole cast is having fun," Moriarty said. "It's starting to come together."
Beyond the loud personalities, louder colors and shrieking pageant mothers, there is a message buried in "Pageant Play." Love, acceptance, self-confidence and partnership all filter through the show's campy satire.
"The show is not just about child beauty contests, pushy stage mothers and bad behavior," Lilly said. "It is also about relationships."
Just don't get between Pinky Corningfield and that glittering five-foot-tall Supreme Queen trophy and those long-stemmed red roses. The Texas Tornado is liable to tear your hair extensions right out!