Cinema: Dreams To Avoid

MISS FIRECRACKER

Directed by Thomas Schlamme

Screenplay by Beth Henley

Movies are show; plays are tell. Here's one difference. In Beth Henley's 1984 off-Broadway hit The Miss Firecracker Contest, a seamstress named Popeye Jackson explained that as a child she "used to make little outfits for the bullfrogs that lived out around our yard." In this expansive adaptation, Popeye (Alfre Woodard) displays one such frog, cunningly coutured in a nurse's gown with matching stethoscope. Ah, the glamorous realism of the cinema! It's cute too.

As screenwriter, Henley has dramatized elements only hinted at in her play, but the story is the...

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