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Here she comes, Miss America…er, Miss Glamouresse. The six contestants in “Pageant,” opening this weekend at Island City Stage in Wilton Manors, all hope to take home the coveted title in this gender-bending musical.

Miss Deep South, Miss West Coast, Miss Great Plains, Miss Bible Belt, Miss Industrial Northeast. and Miss Texas compete in all the traditional beauty pageant categories – evening gowns, talent, swimwear and spokesmodel – but the show is anything but traditional. These iconic belles are all portrayed by men.

“It’s the silliest, most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard, but it’s so much fun. You can take it any way you want,” said director Ron Hutchins, a multiple Carbonell-winning choreographer and stage veteran.

The show by writers Bill Russell and Frank Kelly and composer Albert Evans debuted Off-Broadway in 1991, years before “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” “To Wong Foo” and more than a dozen seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Audiences then were more accustomed to seeing middle-aged comedians Milton Berle and Flip Wilson don frumpy frocks for slapstick drag sketches.

“When I hired the actors, I told them it can’t be like drag, even though we’re in drag,” explained Hutchins. “It’s not too exaggerated, no glitter eyeliner and giant lashes. The costumes were padded instead of the actor, unlike most drag queens today.”

Both the cast and the audience are in on the joke, he emphasized, mocking pageant culture and endless stereotypes.

Veteran music director Michael Ursua joined Hutchins at the helm of this regional premiere.

“He’s pretty terrific,” said Hutchins, who noted their biggest challenge was adapting to the intimate space on North Dixie Highway. “I love it because there’s not a bad seat in the house.”

Good seats are key because the show’s premise relies on audience participation. Five judges will be tapped to evaluate the contestants at each performance. That means a different actor could win the pageant and even the cast members won’t know until the end who will take the victory lap across the stage.

“It’s a real competition,” he promised and the cast has been working hard to prepare.

Some have experience donning high heels and mastering the art of the tuck, while others don’t.

Marcus Davis (Miss Great Plains) is a veteran of “Nunsense: AMEN” and snagged a Carbonell nomination for the Actors Playhouse production of “La Cage aux Folles.” Conor Walton (Miss Texas”, no stranger to sequins and glitter, was featured in Island City’s “Zanna Don’t” and Slow Burn Theatre’s “Xanadu.”

And while Larry Buzzeo is perfectly comfortable performing in drag, instead, he portrays Frankie Cavalier, the smarmy master of ceremonies. Hutchins described his character as “a womanizer, the epitome of Johnny Nightclub, a kind of dirty talk show host.”

Rounding out the cast are Christopher Calhoun (Miss Bible Belt), Michael Scott Ross (Miss Deep South), Kevin Veloz (Miss Industrial Northeast) and Matthew Buffalo (Miss West Coast).

Three weeks of rehearsals have gone well and Hutchins expects audiences to be pleased: “Musicals really bring people in. They want to laugh and get away from reality. I want the audience to come to this show and think it was so much fun that they’ve never laughed so much.”

Island City Stage, 2304 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors, presents “Pageant,” Oct. 20 - Nov. 20. Tickets start at $50 at