Follow the fictional story of a beauty pageant via The University of Findlay’s production of “Smile: The Musical,” to be staged on Wednesday through Sunday, Feb. 17-21, at the John & Hester Powell Grimm Theatre in the Frank J. Egner Center for the Performing Arts. Show times will be Wednesday through Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Because the performance features mature themes and language, the University asks that attendees be at least 13 years old. Tickets for adults are $10, $5 for senior citizens, and $3 for UF students. They can be purchased at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts’ Box Office, 200 W. Main Cross St., by calling 419-423-2787, and by visiting marathoncenterarts.org
The touching, satiric, and mature story of “SMILE: The Musical” follows the intrigue and exploits onstage and behind-the-scenes of the fictional California Young American Miss beauty pageant. The main characters include Robin Gibson and Doria Hudson, two contestants who befriend and help each other throughout the pageant week; Brenda DiCarlo Freelander, an ex-Young American Miss runner-up that is running the pageant; and Brenda’s husband, Big Bob, an RV Salesman trying to help his wife through the week.
With the recent events surrounding the Miss America Pageant apologizing for removing the title from once disgraced Vanessa Williams, a former Miss Pennsylvania being arrested for faking her cancer diagnosis, the controversies surrounding Donald Trump’s ownership of the Miss Universe Pageant, as well as host Steve Harvey’s public gaff at the December Miss Universe Pageant, not to mention the antics of reality television with “Toddlers and Tiaras” and Honey Boo Boo, the UF production of “SMILE: The Musical” arrives just as beauty pageants are again front page news in America.
The original production of “SMILE: The Musical” opened on Broadway on Nov. 24, 1986 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and closed on January 3, 1987 after only 48 performances. It is loosely based on the 1975 original comic screenplay by Jerry Belson, whose television credits included “The Dick Van Dyke Show”; “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”; “The Odd Couple”; “The Drew Carey Show”; and many others.
The music is by Marvin Hamlisch, the Tony, Oscar, Emmy and Grammy Award-winning composer of the musicals “A Chorus Line,” “They’re Playing Our Song,” “The Goodbye Girl,” “The Sweet Smell of Success”, as well as the movies “The Way We Were,” “Ice Castles,” “Sophie’s Choice,” “Three Men and a Baby,” etc.
The book and lyrics are by Howard Ashman, the Golden Globe award-winning lyricist of “Little Shop of Horrors,” as well as Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and “Aladdin.”
“SMILE: The Musical” originally was directed by Ashman with musical staging by Mary Kyte. It received a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical as well as Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical and Outstanding Costume Design.
The production team for the UF production of “SMILE: The Musical” includes Dr. Micheal F. Anders, music director; Vicki McClurkin, stage director; Brenda Hoyt-Brackman, choreographer; and Dr. Carl Walling, scenic & lighting designer/technical director. Other members of the production team are Kelly Lewis, rehearsal accompanist, Kathy Newell, costumer; Jessica Leszkowicz, props mistress; J. J. Ladd, hair designer; Jeff Dean, sound designer; and Matt Stimmel, technical adviser/shop foreman. UF student Molly O’Reilly is stage manager, along with assistant stage managers Sarah Bornhurst and Anna Ritchy-Moore. The musical will be accompanied by a 16-piece live orchestra.
The action of the UF production has been moved from 1986 to the present, and there are many contemporary pop culture references that appear throughout show. Mature content is included.
CAST LIST (all are UF students unless otherwise noted – #UF Faculty/Staff)
Robin Gibson, Antelope Valley: Allison Dilbone
Doria Hudson, Yuba City: Abigail Land
Sandra-Kay MacAffee, Bakersfield: Makenna Fox
Maria Gonzales, Salinas: Tabitha Kittle
Shawn Christianson, La Jolla: Meghan Lasher
Valerie Sherman, Sacramento: Jocelyn Wilson
Heidi Anderson, Anaheim: Lacey Gray
Patti-Lynn Bird, El Centro: Rebekah White
Debralee Davis, Eureka: Kyra Shober
Trudi Lee, San Francisco: Katherine Swank
Kimberly Lyons, Palo Alto: Maaya Ono
Gina Minelli, San Luis Obispo: Sarah Black (former UF student)
Diana Simpson, Sausalito: Isabel Wolke (Findlay High School student)
Connie-Sue Whipple, Visalia: Adrianna Powell
Cookie Wilson, Carson: Rachael Flood
Joanne Marshall, last year’s winner: Becca LaMancusa
Brenda DiCarlo Freelander, runs the pageant: Cheri Hampton-Farmer#
Robert “Big Bob” Freelander, head pageant judge: Jeff Lee (UF ’86)
Tommy French, pageant choreographer: Donovan Callahan
Dale Wilson-Shears, pageant chairman: A.J. DuFresne#
Ted Farley, master of ceremonies: Brent Hoggatt
Carol Stewart, Brenda’s personal pageant assistant: Diana Montague#
Tony Craven, pageant volunteer: Matt Greer
Robin’s mom: Sharinda Welton#
Marlene Epstein, pageant judge: Sean Farmer#
Ed Springfield, pageant judge: Roger Fell#
Father David Murphy, pageant judge: Buzz Dyer#
Louise Richie, pageant volunteer: Rachel Coberley
Nannette Guzman, pageant volunteer: Jessica Flake
Dave Schultz, photographer/reporter: Jacob Sarver
Richard Miller, musical director: Michael Knight
Robert “Little Bob” Freelander, age 12: Jeremey Gobrogge (middle schooler, home school)
Freddy Sanders, age 11: CJ Miller (Findlay middle schooler)
Trudi’s mother (prologue): Elkie Burnside#
Heidi’s dad (prologue): Brent Hoggatt
Sandra-Kaye’s brother (prologue): CJ Miller