'Miss Firecracker' is comedy with some sad moments

Edgefield County Theatre Company's The Miss Firecracker Contest opens July 11 and features Moriah Melvin (from left), Laura Melvin, Brittany Winans, Kevin Berning, Ali McCormack and Carson Faulkner.



The Edgefield County Theatre Company will present the comedy The Miss Firecracker Contest for two weekends at the William Miller Bouknight Theatre at 405 Main St. in Edgefield.

Shows are set for 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, July 11-12 and 18-19, and at 3 p.m. on Sundays, July 13 and 20.

The play, based on the 1989 movie starring Holly Hunter and the book by Beth Henley, centers on the adventures of a young woman named Carnelle Scott, who, against all odds, takes part in a beauty contest she heard was coming to her locale of Yazoo City, Miss.

Carnelle experienced a very challenging childhood, which included her mother dying young and her moving in with cousins. In her teen years, she has earned a bad reputation through reckless and uncontrolled behavior.

Motivated by the fact that her beautiful cousin Elain had once entered a contest and won, she decides to register.

“Carnelle is hoping that her presence in the contest will help improve her reputation,” said director Kenneth McCormack. “She is known locally as ‘Miss Hot Tamale’ and lives in an old Victorian house with her aunt.

“Early on, we meet her seamstress, Popeye Jackson, (played by Laura Melvin) who is the most confident and self-aware person in the play. Then, Carnelle’s cousins, Delmont Williams (played by Carson Faulkner) and Elain Rutledge (played by Ali McCormack) show up. Elain has left her rich husband and children, and Delmont hates Elain. Delmont is a ‘crazy’ kind of guy who loves women.”

Moriah Melvin (who plays Tessy) and Kevin Berning (who plays Mac Sam) are also characters in the play.

McCormack said although the play is termed a comedy, he would call it a “heavy comedy with very intense, sad moments.”

“All of the characters are really sad, unrealistic people,” he said. “It would appeal to just about anyone, but it is a more mature show. There’s hardly any bad language, however.”

McCormack said it has been really interesting to watch how the show has progressed. The 17-year-old has been in theater most of his life, but this is his first experience directing a play. He was introduced to theater by his mother, who plays Elain in this production.

“We have such a wonderful cast,” he said. “We cast from the auditions. They didn’t need a lot of help from me.”

McCormack also will direct Arsenic and Old Lace later at the Edgefield County Theatre.

Brittany Winias, who plays Carnelle, has been acting since 2005 at the Aiken Community Playhouse. This is her first experience in Edgefield.

“It has been so much fun,” she said. “It is a small cast and we get to interact with each other. I will definitely do other plays here.”

She sees her character as a very complex person who is trying to improve her lot in life and has had many ups and downs. She says she has worked hard to portray Carnelle correctly.

“We want everyone to come out and see for themselves how hard all of us have worked,” she said. “It is an amazing show. It being a small theater, we have fun with the audience as well.”

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at the Discovery Center in Edgefield or over the phone at (803) 637-3833.