Saturday, August 9, 2008

"From the cheap seats" - A Miss Greater Cleveland Review - Installment Two

Again, huge thanks to Meghan Markovich-Olmstead for sharing her reviews from Miss Greater Cleveland/Cuyahoga County. This is constructive criticism meant for the betterment of the contestants; if you were a contestant in this pageants, please STOP! Ask yourself if you'd really like the feedback before you scroll below.

If you didn't read the disclaimers on "Installment One," please click here and read it before you proceed.

#7. Jessica Nelson – Okay, my notes are confusing on this one… it says polka w/ black and white top. My second note is that it didn’t look like the top and bottom matched. I’m sorry that I can’t further elaborate or explain this. Also, I was writing in the dark!

SS – She wore a black bikini, but I felt she would have been much better served in a nice one piece that draws the eye to her assets (she has a very small waist) and away from her weak points. She, like Christina, bounced way too much in SS and should have been introduced to Firm Grip (it will be your best friend forever!)

Talent – She sang, “In his eyes.” She wore a white dress and she has very long curly hair that I think could have benefited from some pageant advice on what to do with it—it has lots of volume on the sides, but none on the top. And since I have ultra fine hair and come from the “newscaster helmet hair days” of pageantry, I know that I’m not one to give advice on what to do with curly hair, so I’ll shut up now. I’m not a fan of this pageant song because it always seems that the same notes are always rough ones and it’s kinda boring. My complaint on her performance is that she kinda stared off to the side into nowhere. I think it’s an attempt in coming across as feeling “wistful,” but it just doesn’t work for a pageant.

EG – She wore a red satin gown with her hair all pulled over to one shoulder. For her OSQ, she was asked about Animal Awareness (Is that really the title of her platform? I didn’t get a program book.) and it was the usual beginner “I think I can help” statements. Again, I don’t hold this against a contestant who is just starting out, I just point it out for if she wants to move forward and keep competing.

Again, a sweet girl who I hope to see again.

#9. Brittany Sisko – She wore a stylish black and white dress for interview.

SS – This is where I started to put my finger on what was off during intros. She is a pretty girl, blonde hair/blue eyes and very trendy. But something was off—it was like she was trying to be a fierce fashion model, but it came across as like she was trying to be Paris Hilton (I am only talking about modeling/runway style and not a personal commentary!). That doesn’t work in pageants. Her hands were kind of waving weird/held akimbo and she had a weird smirk on her face, not a fun smile. Her shoes for swimsuit were clunky white kinda bridesmaid shoes. Her swimsuit was a pink/green plaid striped style—but most of my comments were on presentation vs. her appearance. This might’ve been a case of where the presentation took so much away from scoring her physical fitness.

Talent – She did a lyrical dance to, “Redeemed.” She had a nice olive green costume that I really liked, but the lighting people turned the background to a red that totally clashed with it. Is she one of Krystie Whetstone’s students? There was something about her style that reminded me of her, although Brittany wasn’t quite as polished as Krystie. And here is where I show that I’m not a dancer—it seemed like she lacked a little range of motion in her back for the moves she was trying to do—but then again, I’m speaking not from dance experience, but from comparing her moves to other pageant dancers… so maybe I should shut up now. I will, however, mention that she did a weird bow and exit offstage. It was a sort of saunter that just didn’t work for me (see Paris Hilton remarks).

Gown – Wore a sort of salmon colored cocktail dress, but the same presentation issues remained that detracted from it all. She did a weird sort of “side walk” with that same smirk. For OSQ, she was asked about how she can convince schools to keep the arts in education during all of these budget cuts and she said (after repeating the question) that she would get dance companies involved in the problem. I’m not sure I understood her answer, and it ended rather abruptly. But—I think this answer is a typical newbie answer and wasn’t completely terrible or anything.

#9 Katie Gregory-Taylor - KATIE!!!! Katie! Katie! Katie!

I LIKE THIS GIRL!!! There is something very fun/funky about her that resonates with me. And hello? Her talent was so much fun! But I’ll calm down for a minute to give you the details…

Intros – she had a white skirt suit on, but it was SUPER SHORT! I wasn’t into that at first and was actually sort of put off by it. She’s a really cute brunette and just has this playful sense about her. I think with some good advice (ooh! And coaching! THERE I SAID IT!! Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!) she will be an amazing contestant. Dare I say that she reminds me of Miss Washington from last year?

SS – Cute girl, nice body, and a fun style… BUT I will say that this swimsuit didn’t work for pageant style. I understand where she is going with it and I love that she was expressing her personal style, but she wore a retro styled 1 pc black and white gingham swimsuit. It was sort of a tube style swimsuit with a little ruffled skirt part on the bottom with red shoes. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of going with a retro style, but this one didn’t do much for her figure because of the cut of it (not because of her shape!). But I like it when girls try to think outside the box a bit!

Talent – At this point, I thought she was a cute girl, but seriously fashion misguided. I’m not going to lie, I was fearful what talent would bring--*ESPECIALLY* when they announced she would be singing, “Listen” from the Dreamgirls soundtrack (and can I mention at this point that I would have LOVED to hear Roberta sing this song at Miss America??? I did indeed pass that suggestion along last year, so maybe I’m biased on loving this song.) She wore a white satin halter and started out very small and then FRIGGIN’ TORE IT UP! I loved it!! She is fabulous with so much potential!! My critique was that she bounced with the music a lot ala Mariah Carey style instead of a planned performance that tells a story. Both my husband and I officially fell in love with her at this point and he had her picked as his other winner.

Gown – I have to say it – I wasn’t in love with her gown. It was a sorta 90’s style gown with a high collar and was too short for pageants – I would assume it was a prom gown. It was, however, all rhinestoned and beaded, so at least she was moving in the right direction. For her OSQ she was asked about abstinence and the media and she talked about wanting to work with inner city youth and how the issue is so prevalent in minorities. I like to see those old school values paired with real world awareness of the issue.

I said it before – SO MUCH POTENTIAL!!

#10. Megan Wombacker – Her interview suit is a rich jewel toned purple skirt suit with a ruffle on the bottom. I like it well enough, but it’s sort of old school. I seem to recall her wearing something different at Miss Ohio that was more current/stylish, but I think this purple suit fit/flattered her better.

SS – First off, she really is good at choosing rich colors that show well onstage and flatter her skintone. Secondly, I commend the work that she’s done to get herself into good physical shape over the past year. And after watching her talent, there is no question that she works out very hard in order to be in that kind of shape. As for the message board yahoos who like to speculate on how much weight a person should lose, I would like to say right here that I “boo!” their remarks. No, she is not a prelim SS winner, but she is clearly working hard so it’s my turn to say, “Shut up!”

Talent – Tap danced to “Big Time” by Linda Eder. I loved her new costume!! It was black velvet with rhinestones and sheer nude sleeves with rhinestones. It was very, very flattering and showed very well. While it did seem that she got tired toward the end of the routine—hello, I can see why! At the very end of her routine she stepped from the back of the stage to the hardwood apron of the stage and slipped—but she made a great recovery (she did not actually “fall”), and if I was judging I wouldn’t have held it against her—it was very obviously the floor difference and as they say, “It’s all in how you handle it!” and she handled it like a pro.

EG – She wore a red satin V neck gown with a black liquid bead waist and straps. It had a train on it. It might be my personal style, but I just wasn’t into it. It didn’t wow me. I can’t remember if she wore it at state this year, either.

OSQ – She was asked what the I Care program is. First of all, she started with, “The judges already know this…” and I think that could have been cut. Of course the judges already know, but it made the answer seem like she was a little disappointed that she had to repeat herself or like she was apologizing to them. But I think it was an attempt to make her answer more conversational. She talked super fast (from nerves), but she had a great answer.

#11. Ashley Warholic – Again, I think my notes are failing me here. It says “big white top and black pants.” I think it was that she wore a more modern styled outfit, but the top was too big, making it look disproportionate and not well fitted.

SS – She wore a zebra print bikini and was just sort of average in this area. I can’t think of any advice other than to keep toning, practicing her walk, and turn it into a dynamic presentation. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it, though. I was, however, surprised that she won swimsuit.

Talent – She danced to “Canned Heat,” the song from Napoleon Dynamite on point. I wouldn’t have mentioned that movie reference in her intro. She had a great costume – it was bright blue with rhinestones, had one sleeve and a collar, a belt and a rhinestone buckle. She’s a very pretty girl and reminded me a lot of Lauren Shatlock. However, the content of the dance wasn’t great for me. It was en pointe, but there was just a lot of prancing/strutting across stage and walking on her toes vs. actual moves. Again, I’m not a dancer. But as my friend Toni observed when I dragged her to her first pageant (MGC 2002, I think!), “I can tell that the judges like spinning. That girl should have put a whole lot more spins into her routine.” Ha! Okay, maybe you had to be there…

EG – she wore a leopard satin gown, sort of in that Tony Bowls style of dress (but I don’t think it was a TB). It was OK, but I wasn’t in love with it. I’m sure it’s fine for the local level for awhile. For her OSQ, she was asked about strong leaders and she explained her program very well.

#12. Jessica Barrett – I like her new haircut!! It’s much more flattering and stylish and I think it’s a great change for her. She wore a red skirt suit, and I just wasn’t a fan of it.

SS – she wore a white and brown bikini with a belt on the bottom. I thought the fit and proportions were all off—did she wear this at Miss Ohio? The colors didn’t show well onstage, either.

Talent – She sang, “I am a star” and wore a black dress with a white top band and strap. Her look for talent and EG reminded me of Bryn Hough from back in my day. She has an adorable face and voice and she’s a very strong performer—I like how she really “sells” her routine. Also, I like that it’s easy to understand her words when she sings.

EG – She wore a plain white dress. It seemed sort of wedding gown style and was that peau de soie satin that lots of wedding/bridesmaid dresses are made of. It was fine for a local, but I was surprised to see a veteran wearing it. For OSQ, she had a question about organ donation – again, the OSQ at this pageant were too long!!! Being too wordy is just mean during OSQ if you ask me! Anyway, she talked about the misconceptions of organ donation and how she speaks to people about it.

Last, but not least…

I need to talk to you all about Andrea Andryscik. Dare I say that she is the hardest working girl in this pageant system? This girl has lived and breathed Miss America for the past few years – working tirelessly on her platform, networking on behalf of her platform and the program, developing marketing strategies for the program, fundraising for her wardrobe, and seeking professional advice on all areas of competition. She has come such a long way from the big poufy princess gowns and meek little pageant songs. She has truly blossomed and taken every positive aspect of this program to heart. I am so proud of the woman she has become and I am so proud to call her my friend. Congratulations on a stellar run for the title of Miss America. You gave it your all, put yourself out there to so many different audiences and truly lived the job—with or without the title. I love you lots!

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