Child Pageant Parody Returns with All-New Music
Alan Pronger's Little Miss Glitz is back with an original score.
March 9, 2018
If you say you haven’t spent countless hours hate-watching Toddlers and Tiaras, you’re lying. We bet you’re secretly dying to find out if Braelynn can pull off Ultimate Grand Supreme after that sloppy jazz routine. Okay…maybe you lost the TV remote. Or maybe you’re unemployed and looking for a way to pass the time—which is what local dance instructor Alan Pronger was doing when he came up with the idea for Little Miss Glitz.
The musical follows a first-time pageant hopeful, Isabella, as she struggles through the not-so-glamourous cutthroat competition of child beauty pageants. “It’s very critical,” says Pronger, a longtime dancer who’s no stranger to the ruthless nature of youth competition. “But it also approaches the subject with love and care, especially because they are children.” Except, they aren’t really children—all of the characters are portrayed by adult actors, which is just the beginning of the show’s comedy. “Rehearsals are a great place to be, because everyone ends up laughing at things they’ve seen over and over again,” says Pronger.
The show was first produced last year as a jukebox musical (which means that, instead of original music, Pronger used already-existing pop songs), but it was a big success, and Pronger received encouraging feedback from many audience members—one of whom was Christopher King. Pronger had met the Vancouver-based composer a few years earlier when they both worked on Gateway’s production of The Wizard of Oz, and the two ended up sitting next to each other during King’s viewing of Little Miss Glitz. “He spent the whole show laughing,” says Pronger, who approached King a year later to ask for his help with original music.
After a few initial consultations to discuss characters and plot points, King developed an all-new soundtrack. The two were a great fit, with King’s experience and musical know-how bringing Pronger’s ideas to life. “He did such a good job capturing the essence of the show, we hardly had to make any adjustments to the songs after hearing their final versions,” says Pronger. “The music is insanely catchy, I go to bed every single night singing a new song in my head.”
One of the best features of any live show is that every performance is different. This musical, however, takes that to a whole new level: the show has an arbitrary ending, with the audience voting each night on who wins the pageant. The actors then improvise the show’s finale, which has greater implications than just humour. “We wanted to make it clear that we’re not favouring any one of the little girls more than the other,” says Pronger, “and the decision of who wins the pageant is completely arbitrary.”
Leaving the ending up to chance was important to Pronger, who himself is very aware of the problematic nature of not only child pageants, but everyone’s relationship with beauty—little girl or not. “What I noticed watching Toddlers and Tiaras was that a lot of what they were doing to their little girls, who were, you know, perfect little girls,” says Pronger, “is what we do to make ourselves look beautiful for each other.” No matter the show’s ending, Pronger hopes audiences will leave with feelings of power and self-assurance: “It’s okay to just be who you are and present yourself as who you are on the inside.”