Ever since the Miss America pageant began, the beautiful contestants embodied the dreams of every young girl in the nation. Except one. Her name is Barra Grant, whose mother Bess Myerson was the only Jewish Miss America and one of the most famous (and infamous) Miss Americas of all time. The story of their comedic, seismic relationship is told in the world premiere of the Miss America's Ugly Daughter, written and performed by Grant and opening July 14 at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.
Myerson had it all... until she fell in love with the wrong man and lost her reputation and a little of her mind. As the play opens, an off-stage Myerson can't sleep. Lonely and needy, she phones the one person in the world who is still there for her - her daughter. As Barra listens to her mother's ramblings, she reflects on the roller coaster that took Bess from the heights of fame and admiration to the precipice of a prison cell.
Pageant viewers and the fans Myerson gathered over her show business and public service years clearly did not know the real woman beneath the crown. Her daughter, a self-proclaimed "chubby kid with frizzy hair, buck teeth and no obvious talent" had a unique insider's view. Her new play will let audiences in on the challenges, confusion, and explosions of the awkward childhood of a young girl who craved her mother's love while she clearly was not equipped to wear a tiara.
Miss America's Ugly Daughter will open at the Edye, the 99-seat theater at the Broad Stage of the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA on Saturday, July 21. Previews begin July 14th. For tickets and additional information, visit: www.missamericasuglydaughter.com
"Though most of us have not been raised by beauty queens," says Grant, "Miss America's Ugly Daughter is a universal story. My journey, like many others took me from never fitting in during an awkward childhood, to becoming my own person, and finally to turning into a mother myself. Despite a few Bess-generated scars, I learned to maneuver my way around the potholes my mother left in her wake."
Susan Dietz, Tony nominated producer, and Eve Brandstein, a veteran New York and Hollywood director, will add their talents to the production. Unique staging will allow viewers to eavesdrop on hilarious late night conversations between Barra and Bess, voiced by LA favorite Monica Piper, who just completed 200 performances of her Off-Broadway hit Not That Jewish.
Both Brandstein and Dietz are excited about their involvement with Miss America's Ugly Daughter. ""After Barra performed at a spoken word show I produce," said director Brandstein."We agreed to flesh out her stories into a full length play. Thus began a yearlong development of Miss America's Ugly Daughter. This unique two character, one person show has been beautifully crafted by Barra's talent as a writer and performer. It's a humorous, deeply moving personal journey of self-discovery and survival."
"When I read Barra's script, I immediately knew I wanted to be involved in getting her story on stage," adds Dietz. "We get more than a peek at the life of one of America's most heroic, yet tragic heroines. And we see her through the eyes of a child, an adolescent, and an adult. It's most unusual and most powerful."
Barra Grant had a distinguished career of her own before deciding to write and perform Miss America's Ugly Daughter. She studied acting at the Drama Centre, London and starred in the BBC series "Take Three Girls". She appeared in several plays at the Mark Taper Forum Theater and was a featured actress in both comedic and dramatic television. As a screenwriter Barra wrote Slow Dancing in the Big City and Misunderstood, starring Gene Hackman. She produced the Dirty Dancing television series and wrote various daytime television shows including the Emmy-winning The Tap Dance Kid. Her play, A Mother, A Daughter, and a Gun has been produced in L.A., Chicago, and New York, starring Olympia Dukakis. She wrote and directed her play Spa at the Coast Theater in Los Angeles. Barra also wrote and directed the features Life of the Party and Love Hurts, with Carrie-Anne Moss, Janine Garafalo and Jenna Elfman. She is a story teller who has told her stories throughout the city. Grant has received Director's Guild and Humanitas nominations as well as winning The Writer's Guild award.
Miss America's Ugly Daughter opens Saturday, July 14. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased from brownpapertickets.com. Click on "Buy Tickets."
Curated from Broadway World