COLUMBIA, SC — The Miss South Carolina pageant opened its third year at the Township Auditorium on Tuesday, and if one thing is clear it’s that this pageant is focused on producing entertainment. And the contestants continue to rise to the staging. Yes, staging. There are singers with platinum records who don’t perform on stages with such lighting treatment and effects.
Miss Walterboro Donna Tillis, who won the talent prelim, played a stirring rendition of the jazz standard “Summertime” that would please Fantasia, the “American Idol” winner who made her mark on the show with the song. (And she performs at The Township on July 26, probably on a lesser stage.) Lindley Mayer, Miss Greenville County, won swimsuit.
In the Miss SC Teen prelims, Makayla Stark, Miss Chesnee Teen, won evening gown and Mary Grace Nasim, Miss Yellow Jasmine Teen, exhibited a strong and mature voice on her way to a talent win.
Here are some other highlights from the first of three preliminary nights:
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE: Want to watch the watch the pageant without spending $24.50-$59.50 on a ticket? You can watch live through online pay-per-view streaming. For $4.95 per night or $15 for the week’s package, you can be inside the auditorium. Last year there were more than 50,000 unique visitors to the pageant’s site, miss-sc.org, who watched the live stream.
BRACE YOURSELF: How influential has Miss SC Ali Rogers, the runner-up at Miss America, been? Remember she refused to remove her chunky Make a Difference bracelet, even for the evening gown competition. Guess what the hot accessory on stage this year is? Yup, bracelets.
HI, MY NAME IS: Instead of parading the contestants out to introduce themselves as part of the opening number, there was a video montage of Columbia, not unlike what ESPN films when before it broadcasts games from Williams-Brice Stadium. The new LED screens were put to immediate use. The contestant introductions were recorded and shown on screens on either side of the stage. It was less climactic than the previous two years because applause was somewhat subdued, but at least all the names were appropriately audible. Another good use of the screens: posting the names of contestants while they were on the stage so those not keen on paying attention could follow along.
SPEEDING ARTIST: I thought it was a printing error that Greenville Scottish Games Teen Heather Madden was speed painting for her talent. But that’s just what she did. There was even an announcer who bellowed, "Thirty seconds left. Can she do it?," before counting down the final 10 seconds. To reveal the hastily-made art, Madden flipped the canvas. She had painted the Statue of Liberty upside down, tossing glitter to punctuate her performance. Points for style and originality. Upcoming in talent: mimes and jump roping.
If you go
Miss South Carolina and Miss South Carolina Teen pageant
Where: Township Auditorium, 1703 Taylor St.
Preliminaries: Wednesday and Thursday at The Township; 7-10 p.m. Tickets available at the Township’s box office or through Ticketmaster, (800) 745-300 or tickmaster.com
Miss South Carolina Gala: 7 p.m. Friday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St.; open to the public; tickets, $50
Finale: 7 p.m. Saturday at The Township
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.