Friday, August 1, 2008

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

When two-time Miss Ohio competitor Meghan Markovich-Olmstead offered to write a recap of Miss Greater Cleveland/ Cuyahoga County, I of course said yes! However, if you were a contestant in that pageant - STOP! This disclaimer and Meghan’s below are meant to protect you. I participated in Miss Greater Cleveland the year judges comments were unexpectedly mailed out; I understand how difficult criticism can be, especially when you didn’t ask for it! So, before you scroll below, as yourself if are truly able to handle some feedback.

Meghan and I both understand how hard it is to be a contestant; maybe you don’t have the money to update your wardrobe, maybe you love something even though everyone else hates it… Maybe you’ve heard the same critique a MILLION times - you get it and you’re trying your hardest to fix it! We do understand how frustrating feedback can be.

On the other hand… When I look back on my pageant career, I can’t believe how long it took just to crack the stupid Top 10 at Miss Ohio! If I could rewind time, I’d seek out and take advice much sooner. I did/wore a lot of things that were great in theory, but horrid in practice; I confused the line “do what makes you feel best” with other more practical advice I received. So even if you love something, be open minded… Most critiques will better you and I can say with 100% certainty that is the purpose of the ones below…

From the cheap seats…

First of all, I’d like to thank Abby for allowing me to be a guest blogger to provide my own recap/thoughts from MGC/MCC last Saturday. I’ve always enjoyed how Abby provides timely pageant news, so maybe a little “constructive criticism” element (READ: not message board bashing) will be a nice added element. However, I preface all of this with a big fat, “Hey! I was a contestant too (at one point, but that was long ago. I am now old and haggard and should just move on with my life… right?). I was once a massive novice train wreck (anyone remember me twirling a flag?) and through hard work, dedication, and taking lots and lots of constructive criticism, I was able to blossom into a moderate pageant fender-bender (just please do not bring up the ‘Candle on the Water’ incident of 2002; I will cry… Again.)” So there! Take everything that follows all with a grain of salt…

#1. Whitney Sue Fricke – She wore a solid skirt suit that was sort of a salmon color. It was a nice selection for her first shot at a local and I’m sure for state she’ll be shopping for something new—hopefully along the lines of the newer, stylish dresses and fashion-forward outfits worn at Miss America.

She looked great physically in SS, and was actually my choice for the swimsuit winner. She was tan, toned and chose an aqua suit—the color looked great against her skin. The only thing for me (being a pageant nitpicker) was that the proportions were off on her top. I’m sure someone will introduce her to “chicken cutlets.” Or maybe I just did. Whatever!

Since she’s news to pageants, I’ll forgive the fact that she sang, “Orange Colored Sky” but seriously, every time I have to hear that song I am tempted to rip the skin off of my face, lurch on to the stage, and smother the contestant in it. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating... Kinda. Anyway, she wore a red cocktail dress with a silver shimmer to it. I wasn’t into it, but again—not a bad choice for your first local. She knew she needed some glitz and went with what she had (or borrowed or just didn’t pay out the nose!) When she started out the song, I noticed she didn’t have a big voice—really, it’s kind of cutesy. As the song continued and it called for a bigger voice it got kinda rough, but I think that was because this song just wasn’t a good fit for her.

In evening gown, she wore an aqua satin gown that you see in the photos that Abby has already posted. She looked good, but I couldn’t help but notice that her shoes were really loud—but the music didn’t start until ½ way through her walk and even then it was really quiet. But again, not bad for winning her first local, but she will need something new for state. For her OSQ, she was asked about her platform, which involves true beauty and self esteem. She spoke with a lot of passion, did a pretty good job for someone just starting out, but started to ramble toward the end. Again, I know that’s something that comes with practice and knowing your platform in and out.

Both my husband and I had her picked as the MCC title winner. I was a little concerned that being #1 would hurt her, but I was glad to see it did not. However, I think if she would have been later in the show, she would have won swimsuit. She has a lot of potential and with proper guidance she will do well at Miss Ohio.

#2. Kristin Haas – Her interview suit was a burgundy/wine colored skirt suit. It fit her very well – I really liked the cut of it. The color didn’t do much for me, however. Might’ve been just the stage lights, though. Some things look great close up (i.e., an interview room) and not so great onstage.

SS – She wore a really pretty 1 pc. teal SS that had a rhinestone brooch. I liked it well enough, but I will say that it’s odd that she doesn’t wear a 2 pc. when she clearly (physically) should. The swimsuit music that was selected was a little weird, I can’t remember what it was, but it wasn’t anything fun that the girls could play with and model in the “new Miss America” way. As for the “prancing” that I’ve heard a lot of people mention in regards to her modeling, she started out fine, but then by the time she was hitting her poses and exited the stage, she fell right back into it.

Talent – She is a fine dancer, but for some reason it seems like her selections in music never really go anywhere—there’s no build up to some bigger/more difficult elements, so it just ends up becoming sort of boring for me. I would suggest either choosing music that “evolves” a little more or cheat a little by cutting the song short. You don’t want judges thinking to themselves, “Is this over yet? Man, it’s starting to drag!”

EG – She wore a white dress with a slit up the front leg and I thought it looked good. Her presentation was polished, her hair looked great, and she really did seem to enjoy herself onstage. The dress fit her well and she moved in it comfortably. As for her OSQ, she was asked about her fitness/women’s health platform and was asked to explain the Go Red for Women campaign and her role in it. She explained the program very well, but completely missed mentioning her role in it. However, I will say that the OSQ’s were VERY LONG and wordy… she probably just missed it because she forgot it was asked and not because she didn’t have an answer to the question.

Through most of the pageant I had her as one of the winners, but after talent she slipped to 1st RU.

#3. Alicia Huyghe -I’ve heard her name before, but I had never seen her compete. She wore a tangerine orange skirt suit for onstage interview. I wasn’t a fan of it for her skin/hair color. I’m assuming she bought it specifically for competition since this wasn’t her first pageant (anyone can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), so I do feel comfortable in saying that it just wasn’t a good choice.

SS – She wore a multi colored bikini that again—the colors and fit did not work. I think a few lessons from the pros would help out in how to properly glue bathing suit bottoms and how to shop for a proper fit and color would be of great help to her. Also, continuing to tone (I’m sure her talent rehearsal is a great workout!! Whoa!) will help her in this area.

Talent – She’s a really fun tapper to watch and certainly talented! She was energetic and kept it up through the whole routine. I loved her big finish!! That said, again—an outfit that didn’t work for me. It was black pants with a yellow top with black polka dots with matching headband. I liked the fun of the polka dots, but the pants weren’t flattering—in fact, they looked like they were way too big for her. They kept gapping and you could see what I can only believe was her underwear… And while I enjoyed the performance and thought she gave a pretty solid presentation, she started out with her back to the audience for a long time… I didn’t really like that. It made me feel like I was just staring at her, um, backside. ;-) Then when her routine was over, she just sort of walked offstage – not really a finished ending.

EG – She wore a green mermaid style dress. The top had a embroidered vine design and the bottom mermaid portion was a bunch of layers of knife pleat fabric. Her OSQ answer was typical local talk—sounded a little rehearsed about her platform (environment) and the steps she’s going to take to implement it (plans to talk in elementary schools.) It’s OK when you’re first starting out to say “I plan to…” but anyone who has competed in several locals should start to be able to say, “I am currently…”

Overall, she seems like a nice girl who enjoys the program and can benefit a lot from it. Most of my comments are wardrobe-based, but I think my overarching statement is that she has a strong talent, but the other areas all need some polish. I hope that she sticks with it.

#4. MieLecia Martin – My husband pointed at her during introductions and announced, “I LIKE HER! Mark her down!” so that was good news at the start. For interview, she wore a stylish outfit (not stodgy interview suit) with a white sleeveless top. I agreed—she looked good! Pretty, modern and trendy. Also had good energy and stage presence.

SS – Well, I really wasn’t a fan of her swimsuit at all. It was a black bikini that had a sort of skirt on the bottom with fringy strings hanging off of the sides. While I appreciate it is a modern style-- the fabric, cut (especially at the butt. and the string things hanging made it look like… well, um… let’s leave it at “inappropriate.” It did not project “titleholder” to me and actually bothered me enough that I remembered it for the rest of the competition, which isn’t a good thing. I really liked her shoes, but not for SS competition. They were espadrilles with a green satin wrap around the ankle.

Talent – She did a dance to “The way you make me feel.” While she had good rhythm, I really don’t think she’s a trained dancer. She wore black pants with a multi colored shirt.

EG – I liked her evening gown, a very nice selection for first starting off in pageants. It’s a tan/wine colored satin dress with ruffles on the bottom and a halter on the top. She looked very pretty.

OSQ – She’s very well spoken and her platform involves teens using drugs and alcohol. She answered about making positive changes, being a role model, and trying to bring back DARE programs (and another program that I can’t remember. Whoops!)

Final evaluation: While she had me at hello and finished well with EG/OSQ, she needs talent work and the swimsuit has gotta go. If this is her first pageant, I am very impressed with her stage presence. I like seeing “real” girls get up there on stage and express themselves, so I’m rooting for her to continue competing!

I have a feeling these are going to get progressively shorter as a few days have passed since the pageant and I have to rely on my notes instead of memory.

#5 Caitlin Mann - Did not compete.

#6 Christina Muha – The only notes I have for her interview suit is that she had on white shoes that looked way too big for her, so they looked klunky.

SS—Her walk was way bouncy. She wore a multi-colored swimsuit that didn’t fit right (someone should have introduced all of the new girls to Firm Grip!) and at the end of her walk, she tried to do the little heel kick, but it came across as a weird, contrived almost cheerleader move.

Talent – She played the French horn to “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast. She wore a blue prom style gown with “pickups” (which has been popular in prom and wedding gowns, but not in pageants.) She played with a music stand, which I understand is a no-no in pageants. While she does know how to play the horn, presentation on this really lacked for me, not talent. There’s no opportunity to make eye contact with the judges, entertain, etc. The end seemed kind of odd—there were lots of pauses and it ended abruptly.

Gown – As a new girl, she really should have been given more walking advice at rehearsal—she had a way of swinging her arms all akimbo that seemed very unnatural. She wore a green dress with sort of an empire waist – not a bad selection for her first pageant, but not a competition gown. I also found her rhinestone barrette distracting and more teen, less glamorous.

OSQ – Question on youth making positive choices. First of all, she repeated the question (another no-no in the Miss divisions) and was very fidgety (or as I wrote in my notes, wiggily). It’s one thing to make natural gestures, but it’s another to wiggle all over the place. Her answer was that she could make a difference by being a role model.

Overall, came across as a really sweet girl who has probably watched some pageants in person or on TV, but could really benefit by grabbing a video of MGC/MCC and watching herself compete, practice at home in the mirror, get a little advice and I bet her entire demeanor onstage and walk changes dramatically.

The other half will follow in a day or two... If you would like something written about you removed, please do not hesitate to email me. [All photos from Facebook; competition photos thanks to Ashley Hartman.]

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to say that this was an excellent way to provide helpful and positive advice to contestants. Especially since so many girls are just getting started in the Miss Ohio program, it's great! Let me tell you, as a person for whom it took 11 tries to win a local title- don't understand the power of advice! When I finally won my local it was after months and months of hard work and tweaking, and I know that if I had won the first VA pageant I did (where I placed 1st runner up) I wouldn't have done as well as I did at Miss Virginia this year.

    I hope no contestant takes any of these comments in a nasty way- but trust me, these kind of neutral opinions can help you go far and save a lot of money!

    If you don't have money for that perfect pageant wardrobe, reach out to others- former contestants, alums of your university, etc. I had over $1,000 given to me by alums of my college simply because they believed in me.

    Thanks for posting this, it's almost like I was there! And I didn't have to scroll through nasty and ignorant anonymous message board posts!


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