It started out as a gloomy, rainy day of driving, but somewhere south of Dayton my parents and I realized, “It’s green down here!” In Hamilton the flowering trees and bushes are in beautiful bloom already and we passed beds of vibrant yellow daffodils.
Heaven Sent bridal is one of the pageants sponsors and the program was held in their reception hall, a few doors down from their bridal salon and wedding chapel.
Cincinnati area resident and former Miss Ohio contestant Erin Jeffery Rathman helped backstage, along with her mom. The very first Miss Hamilton, Nicole Masters, served as emcee; she looked beautiful in a colorful silk gown and did a terrific job. I don’t know if it was Nicole’s smooth delivery or what, but the script (which is usually boring, painful and easily recited in your sleep after you’ve been to a pageant or two) seemed very well written.
Former state ED Jeri Waite was in attendance, Jan and Don Moll of Miss North Coast served as auditors, Leslie Norris Townsend, the producer of Miss West Central Ohio, was the judge’s chair and the following judged:
Jerry Richards of “Rediscover Hamilton”
Pamela Grant of Hamilton schools
Timothy Greenlee, PhD., a certified Miss America judge and professor of Marketing
Madonna Pettit, Executive Director of Miss West Central Ohio
Shawn Stidman of the Hamilton Marriot
The outgoing Miss Hamilton, Sophia Davis, works in Washington DC and was not able to attend, but the outgoing Teen, Olivia Yokers did a fantastic job! She is a very entertaining performer and sang several songs, from “O mia babbino caro” to “Taylor the Latte Boy!” Another impressive Teen, Aunjanna Million, was in the audience cheering on her little sister, Au’Lauren, who won the Little Miss crown. Aunjanna is a former Miss Butler County Outstanding Teen and is absolutely stunning! To fill time while the results were being tabulated Nicole invited Erin, Aunjanna and I to the mic to talk about what we’re doing now and how the program helped us. Aujanna went first, rattling off a laundry list of activities she’s involved in, as Erin and I looked at each other asking, “how do we follow that?!” Hopefully both Olivia and Aujanna will continue competing in the future.
As for the program, we feared it would take forever since it included Teen and Little Miss, but thankfully it did not; granted several contestants were absent. In gown the Teens walked to the popular new Hawaiian version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It was beautiful, but will probably become overdone in pageantland faster than “Orange Colored Sky.” What I did not like at all was that the Miss talents have been cut to 90 seconds. When did this trickle down to the local level? After Miss America? It seemed like some of the singer’s and dancer’s accompaniments cut off abruptly; professionally edited accompaniments are extremely important, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they haven’t had time to adjust to the new rule. In the past I’ve argued that 90 seconds isn’t that bad. I mean, in professional auditions and early rounds of America Idol, you get even less than that; however, having seen 90 seconds at a local pageant, I did not think it was enough time.
The contestants were asked some difficult, but very good, onstage questions. Here they are, somewhat paraphrased:
* Is the death penalty appropriate for someone convicted of embezzling / swindling corporate funds?
* The NCAA men’s basketball playoffs are going on now; are women’s sports as important as men’s sports?
* Should our troops remain in Iraq?
* Are pageants/Miss America relevant in our society?
* Something about all the recent home foreclosures. I don't recall how the question was phrased.
* Have we broken through the glass ceiling? Are we ready for a female president?
* Should the government have bailed out major corporations?
* Miley Cyrus was recently criticized for an "inappropriate" pictorial in Vanity Fair; should celebrities be held accountable as role models?
* Something about Chris Brown and Rhianna. I don't recall how the question was phrased.
As for the contestants, I know only Sweeps are left and this pageant mainly had new contestants; nonetheless, I’m going to pass along my reviews, following Allie Krucek’s format of noting strengths, then areas to improve. This is meant to be helpful and not hurtful, so please STOP reading if you can’t handles some constructive criticism! Every audience member had their opinions, these happen to be mine; take them or leave them. Feel free to email me if you’d like further explanations of my views. firstname.lastname@example.org
Talent: Vocal / “Journey to the Past” from the movie Anastasia
Platform: Faces without Places / Project Connect
Strengths: Rebeka is a very beautiful, consistent competitor; she was strong in all of the phases of competition. Her body in swimsuit was just plain hot, her evening gown was elegant and her vocals were solid. I spoke to her mom afterward and was impressed to learn she’s worked with her platform for nine years, which has to make it a strong topic during interview. Areas to improve: This is her first title, so I think her wardrobe needs upgraded for the Miss Ohio stage. It also seemed like her song ended abruptly; I don’t recall if the music cut off unprofessionally, or if I’m just not used to hearing only 90 seconds. Either way, I’d recommend she add some arm movements if she stays behind a stand or perhaps practice using a hand held mic in order to work the large Miss Ohio stage.
Talent: Lyrical dance / “Candle light”
Platform: Helping Kids Kope
As I wrote after Miss Lake Festival, I can’t give an unbiased review of Devon because I know her. I think she has the illusive, indefinable “it” quality. Years of dance competitions have given her natural confidence onstage. Speaking of her dance, I’ve told her that’s not an area I’d ever try to give her advice on, but I think she’s also still adjusting to the new 90 second time limit.
Talent: Piano / Phantom of the Opera medley
Strengths: As I told her after the pageant, you could tell she was a force to be reckoned with as soon as she opened her mouth during the introductions! She’s on her college speech team and it was obvious. She brought that same confidence to the stage in Evening Gown and Swimsuit; she really exudes energy! Her gown was a great color on her and a flattering cut. Areas to improve: The color of her swimsuit was good, but I didn’t like the tankini style. Hope also needs to continue polishing her piano performance.
Talent: Jazz dance / “Love Struck”
Strengths: Emily is like Lawyer Barbi! She’s so pretty, with a resume to match! Her smile lit up the room and she seemed genuinely enthused to be onstage. Her dance was energetic, but I’m not qualified to note if it was technical or not. Areas to improve: Overall, I was not a fan of Emily’s wardrobe and styling. She’s very poised in gown, so she might get away with it just to win a local, but the top half of her dance costume was too casual and I can’t image a skirted swimsuit scores well.
Talent: Vocal / “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha
Strengths: Lynette is gorgeous and so photogenic when she’s smiling. Her chocolate brown gown accented with teal was great coloring on her, her body is well toned in swimsuit and most notably, she can really sing! Areas to improve: Confidence, confidence, confidence! I’m assuming it was nerves that kept her from holding her smile. With improved stage presence, I have no doubt she would have placed.
Talent: Monologue / Emily Webbs from Our Town
Strengths: Brooke brings great energy to the stage and obviously enjoys what she’s doing. Monologues get a bad rap in the world of pageantry, but I thought her selection was good and she conveyed genuine and moving emotion. Areas to improve: To use paint terms, I would recommend an evening gown fabric with a flat finish to it, as opposed to the super shiny gown she wore. Also, I was originally going to suggest a solid one piece instead of the tankini, but now that I look again, perhaps it is…? Either way, I don’t like the way the fabric bunched and wrinkled in the torso.
Talent: Flute / Hungarian Dance
Strengths: Sarah was without a doubt the most photogenic contestant; she is so pretty! She reminds me of Jennifer Garner, with a natural, girl next door type of beauty. In pageantland, people would call her a “breath of fresh air.” She has a nice figure and her flute performance was pleasant to listen to. Areas to improve: Sarah has huge potential and if she enjoyed the experience in the slightest I hope she tries again. First and foremost, I’d encourage her to memorize her song. Next, improved stage presence will come with experience and practice and finally, I’d suggest a different evening gown; the yellow was very pretty, but not competitive.
The Teen scores had to be extremely close! I am not comfortable publicly posting detailed critiques, but if I had to pick the most memorable thing about each girl it would be:
Veronica Wende is a ton of fun to watch sing; she is extremely expressive! She sang “Shy” from Once Upon a Mattress.
Kaitlin Craig was consistent; very pretty, energetic and quintessentially “teen.” She did a Latin / Jazz type dance to “Cup of Love.”
I LOVED Emilee Lowe’s evening gown; I thought it was the most stunning gown onstage all night! She performed a Jazz dance to “Hit me with a Hot Note.”
Stormee McHargue has such a pretty face, she kind of reminded me of Ashley Warholic. She clogged to the country song “Loud.”