I'm not a journalist. I'm not an entertainment critic. I'm definitely not a pageant girl. I am however, a human being that can see and hear. I'm not ignorant to talent and I am confident that I know when I've just witnessed utter ridiculousness.
Last night, I attended the Miss Sierra Vista Pageant. This is a local pageant that takes place in my hometown every summer. One courageous young woman is crowned Miss Sierra Vista every year and earns the spot to compete for Miss Arizona. I have been part of the organization for about 6 years as a volunteer pageant hostess. However, it's been 3 years since the last pageant I volunteered for. When I was young, I remember attending the pageants and loving it. I was only there as a member of the audience, but I remember how I loved watching all the pretty girls sing, dance and play instruments. All of their dresses were so sparkly and gorgeous and their hair was so perfect. Their rhinestone earrings and bracelets shimmered so beautifully under the stage lights and the pairing of high heels with bikinis appeared so glamorous! The masters of ceremony were always prepared and though they were corny at times, they kept the flow of the pageant steady all night. The mini-acts in between each phase of the competition were fun and fitting. This pageant always has a theme...and back then, each act would fit perfectly with that theme and earned the Miss Sierra Vista pageant it's statewide recognition...as not only being a pageant...but an actual entertaining production. As I got older, I began to have friends that would enter the pageant and eventually, I started to volunteer. As the years went by, the rehearsals became fewer, the preparation became less important to those involved and the production ultimately became just another pageant.
I know that this isn't Hollywood and I can't expect much from a small town pageant....but since I know what these pageants used to be like and I know what they've become....I am going to write about last night while it's fresh on my mind.
The theme was "British Invasion." I thought it wasn't a bad theme and that at least I'd be able to hear some Beatles music or something. Instead, what took place last night in the Buena Performing Arts Center was an experience that can only be described as horrific. At several points in the night, it physically hurt me to continue watching and I have only myself to blame, because at my disposal were legs to walk out and keys to drive away and never look back. Instead I stayed. I spent $18 on a ticket to the Miss disgrace to Sierra Vista Pageant. I exposed my sister and mother-in-law to the disaster, too. They'll never get those 2 hours of their lives back and I literally held the key to their escape. So, as if I haven't tortured myself and two family members enough, let me take you through the train wreck of last night...one out of key song at a time.
Let me just first say that, for the most part, this awfulness had nothing to do with the contestants. It takes a lot of courage to get up on stage and do what they did and I truly respect them for that. Now, the people in charge of the production on the other hand......I have three words for you. Shame on you. The theme, as I mentioned before, was "British Invasion." The opening number was a dance by the contestants, followed by them each introducing themselves and announcing their platforms. The stage setting was....nothing. There was one red light that made a diagonal line across the back wall of the stage...and that's it. One of the only good parts of the pageant was the reigning Miss Sierra Vista. She is adorable and her personality is full of whimsy and grace. She had on a dress, that should have inspired the stage design...but unfortunately it didn't, so she remained the only aspect of the stage that shined. Immediately following the opening number was something that me and the other 200 people in the audience will have embedded in our minds forever...and not in a good way. We all witnessed a short, chubby girl with a tattoo on her arm come out on stage, stand in the corner wearing a short skirt with leggings underneath, a white t-shirt and some Chuck Taylors. She then proceeded to sing, karaoke style, a song that no matter who originated it, will forever be known to me as the unexplainable performance that will scar me for life. I mean, how many people, producers, directors and just innocent human bystanders stood back and allowed that girl to make it on stage for the final show? Every single note was out of key and the dancing was offensive. After she was done and the song was over, she grabbed some equipment from the stage and was gone. So, I got to thinking that maybe she was the daughter of the stage manager and nothing could be done to stop her from swiping that spot in the production. Who knows. All I know is that when it was over...even my mother-on-law didn't applaud.
As I said before, I was at least imagining maybe some Beatles music to start playing at some point in the night, but I swear I heard Christina Aguilera more than any other musician. At one point, the contestants also performed an entire phase of the competition to the 80's song, Sweet Dreams. What the hell? When I think of British Invasion...I would never think of 80's music. I don't think 80's music should ever be played where anyone can hear it. Especially not in a production that was supposed to be centered around great music. Whoever was in charge of the music....I have three words for you as well. How dare you?
So, the worst hadn't been seen yet, even after the random Chuck Taylor girl sang. The worst came when the MC's were introduced. The woman MC is supposedly, according the voice over commentator, a musical legend in our town. She's a voice coach, teacher and professional singer. I have met her on a couple occasions and she acts like she's a celebrity. She's always been involved with the MSV pageant since I can remember and I've never been impressed by her voice. I never understood why they always had her sing the National Anthem before the pageant, every year. In fact, one year, about 4 years ago, I suggested to the director that she get some fresh faces, and more importantly, fresh voices up there to sing the National Anthem. She took my advice that year and clearly I shouldn't have stopped there. This MC's accomplishments can't be for real. She can't sing and she really shouldn't be teaching young people to sing. That first girl (tattoo arm) was probably one of her students paying good money to this phony, fake British woman who should be telling that young girl to explore her dreams in graphic design or gothic poetry....something other than singing. She's stealing money from her and even worse, wasting her time. You might be wondering what the "fake British woman" comment came from. Well, the woman is not British and she doesn't have a British accent. A few years ago, she commentated the pageant and had no accent. That same year, I ran into her in the hall by the dressing room and she said something to me in passing in a splotchy British accent. Then, the next year, I saw her again at a fundraiser for the MSV pageant when she came up and spoke to the contestant I was hosting....and didn't have a British accent. But, later in the buffet line at that same event....she had a strong British accent that almost turned Jamaican by the time she reached the salad dressing. What is she doing? Well, I'll tell you what she did last night...she stuck with the British accent ALL NIGHT. She was a Co-MC, so we all heard her voice more than anyone's voice. It was the weirdest accent ever. I couldn't understand half the words she was saying and Brits everywhere would have been offended by her sloppy, unattractive, fake accent. Again....who let this happen? Who let this eye sore on stage? Her Co-MC was a man that had a list of life experiences that would impress anyone in show business. However, he came out and sang a song that had to have been a joke. It was a joke, right? He sang worse than ole' crazy (his Co-MC), and that's pretty hard to do. Every single note was out of key and not with the music. He later came out to do a duet medley with a random guy that had the audience actually laughing....and I don't think it was a comedy act. I think it was supposed to be serious. That's the point where I couldn't watch or listen anymore. It wasn't even funny....it was irritating and an embarrassing display. They might as well have walked up to Miss Sierra Vista and spit in her face....because this was worse, trust me.
All of the 5 contestants were cute and you could tell that they had been preparing and nervous for their big night. The current Miss Sierra Vista is who the night is supposed to be all about. It's supposed to be her night and I don't think the thrown together, awful display of the MSV pageant this year was fair to her at all....or to any of the contestants. Three contestants danced and two sang. Both singers, performed a song by Christina Aguilera. Neither were good. The three dancers were ok. One was incredibly prepared and good at what she did. One was not prepared at all and appeared to be making it up as she went along....and the other dancer was too adorable for it to matter that she had no dance talent whatsoever. The current Miss Sierra Vista gave an uplifting final performance. Her talent is sign language. She passionately signed to a catchy song and did a nice job. Along with the current Miss Sierra Vista, there were 2 other bright spots of the night. Miss Arizona and Miss Arizona Outstanding Teen were in attendance. They each performed their talents, which were both vocal numbers. Miss Arizona was cute as a button and looked a lot like Julliane Hough. She sang a country song and sounded very good. Her voice was similar to Carrie Underwood and it was a pleasant performance. It was the best of the night, by far, that is until Miss Arizona Outstanding Teen came on stage. She sang the Bob Dylan song (later covered by Garth Brooks), "To Make You Feel My Love." She put a bluesy twist on it and it was absolutely beautiful. She gave me goosebumps and made me want to go home, curl up on the couch and watch Hope Floats.
After that, it went downhill from there. A few more performers entertained (or tried to) the audience while the scores were being tallied. As if the night couldn't get any worse, another guest performer came on stage and sang, what seemed like a 29 minute Adele song. For one, I'm not an Adele fan at all, but just when I thought it couldn't get worse...it did. She sang it off key, sharp and too loud for 37 minutes straight. I thought it would never end.
The winner of the pageant was a well spoken, young contestant. She had the lesser of the bad singing voices and is pretty and poised. Maybe spending a little more time and effort on the production should be something they should think about for next year. Not letting any random person on stage to sing should be the first thing done in revamping the pageant....oh yeah and no more crazy, fake Brits with fabricated credentials for sure.