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Back for more: Darkly comic ‘Miss America’s Ugly Daughter’
gets third run, moves to Edgemar Center for the Arts
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (May 14, 2019) — Following critically acclaimed, sold out runs, first in 2018 and again earlier this year, writer/performer Barra Grant returns with her darkly hilarious mother-daughter story: the true, inside tale of Grant’s seismic relationship with her mother, Bess Myerson. Pageant Productions and Canon Theatricals present Miss America’s Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me written and performed by Grant and featuring Monica Piper. Eve Brandstein directs once again, this time for a June 21 opening at the Edgemar Center for the Arts, where performances will continue through Aug. 4.
“This show has demonstrated tremendous legs, and we are getting interest from New York,” says producer Suzi Dietz, who is a five-time Tony award nominee. “We’ve decided to keep it running as long as audiences continue to respond so that we can figure out the next steps. It’s an unusual and powerful story.”
Grant’s critically acclaimed play is her fascinating account of growing up a confused ugly duckling in the shadow of her spectacular mother. An awkward, chubby kid with frizzy hair, buck teeth and no obvious talent, Barra was beauty queen Myerson’s only child. The first and only Jewish Miss America, Myerson was famous — an accomplished pianist, television personality, New York City’s first Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, a close advisor to Mayor Ed Koch, and a national spokesperson against anti-Semitism — until she became infamous, falling in love with the wrong man and going down with her Mafia boyfriend in a judge-bribing scandal.
In the play, Barra takes us on the journey of her life: a feisty struggle as she tries to fit in at school, meet the right man, find a career and forge her own place in the universe. But Bess (voiced off stage by Piper) is ever-present, fixated on “improving” Barra by molding her into a version of herself. Barra’s final challenge occurs when she has a daughter of her own and has to discover a whole new set of parenting skills.
Critics are calling the piece “explosive, edgy… beautifully constructed” (Stage Raw); “spellbinding, gossipy, heartbreaking yet always truly entertaining” (Will Call for Theater); “funny and painful… reveals the triumph of love” (Santa Monica Daily Press); and “exquisite… recollects, reconciles, and redeems a most complex yet loving mother-daughter relationship” (Curtain Up).
Original music for Miss America’s Ugly Daughter is composed by Mark Adler. The creative team includes scenic designer Elisa Schaefer, costume designer Florie Bunzel, lighting designer Ian James, projection and sound designer Tom Jones and graphic designer Deborah Keaton. The production stage manager is Phil Gold.
Miss America’s Ugly Daughter opens on Friday, June 21 at 8 p.m., with performances continuing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through Aug. 4 (dark Sunday, June 23). There will be three preview performances June 14 through 16 on the same schedule. General admission is $25 for previews and $40 for performances; students and seniors are $20 for previews and performances.
The Edgemar Center for the Arts is located at 2437 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90405. Free street parking is available on and east of 4th St. (3 blocks east of the theater); for $1 per hour in Municipal Lot 11 (across the street from the theater); and for a $6 flat fee in the theater-adjacent lot. Please note that metered parking on Main Street is limited to 3 hours and cannot be renewed.
For more information and to purchase tickets, call (323) 285-2078 or go to MissAmericasUglyDaughter.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘Miss America’s Ugly Daughter:
Bess Myerson & Me’
Miss America’s Ugly Daughter: Bess Myerson & Me — Following critically acclaimed, sold out runs, first in 2018 and again earlier this year, writer/performer Barra Grant returns once more with her darkly hilarious mother-daughter story: the true, inside tale of Grant’s seismic relationship with her mother, Bess Myerson. A beauty queen best known as the first and only Jewish Miss America, Myerson was an accomplished pianist, television personality, New York City’s first Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, a close advisor to Mayor Ed Koch, and a national spokesperson against anti-Semitism. Then, she infamously went down in flames — with her Mafia boyfriend! — in a judge-bribing scandal known as the “Bess Mess.” If you missed Grant’s fascinating tale about being a confused ugly duckling growing up in the shadow of her spectacular mother, here’s your chance.
• Written and performed by Barra Grant
• Featuring Monica Piper
• Directed by Eve Brandstein
• Original music composed by Mark Adler
• Produced by Suzi Dietz
• Presented by Pageant Productions in association with Canon Theatricals
Previews: June 14, June 15, June 16
Performances: June 21 – Aug 4
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: June 14 (preview), 21 (opening night), 28; July 5, 12, 19, 26; Aug. 2
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: June 15 (preview), 22, 29; July 6, 13, 20, 27; Aug. 3
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: June 16 (preview), 30; July 7, 14, 28; Aug 4 (dark June 23)
Edgemar Center for the Arts
2437 Main St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(323) 285-2078 or MissAmericasUglyDaughter.com
• General admission: $25 (previews) / $40 (performances)
• Students/Seniors: $20 for previews and performances
• Free street parking on and east of 4th St. (3 blocks east of the theater)
• $1 per hour in Municipal Lot 11 (across the street from the theater)
• $6 flat fee in theater-adjacent lot
• Please note that metered parking on Main Street is limited to 3 hours and cannot be renewed