Thunderclouds rumbled over the Township Auditorium on Tuesday night as Miss South Carolina and Miss Teen South Carolina contestants hit the stage for an electrifying first round of preliminaries.
Watch the throne: After belting out a powerful “Star- Spangled Banner” to begin the festivities, current Miss South Carolina, Brooke Mosteller, had some stylish words of wisdom for this year’s competitors – “remember the crown really is a symbol that you serve something bigger than yourself ... and to always pack some extra mascara.”
Blinded by the light: During their preshow banter, Miss America 1977 Dorothy Benham called cohost Brian McConchie of WACH FOX her “knight in shining armor.” McConchie replied by saying she was the one in the chain mail, a jab at her (painfully) shiny, metallic dress. Now, the staging was bright (Giant LED screens flashed gorgeous, pulsating graphics on par with a Dubstep concert), but even the lights seemed dimmer than her blinding ensemble. Audience members were safe – as long as they didn’t look directly at her.
Push it to the limit: The teen competitors jogged onstage in pink and yellow workout tanks for a fitness-themed competition segment. After a few choreographed karate kicks and punches, the ladies lined up and waited. When her name was called, a contestant would jog to center stage, bust out three jumping jacks, then hit the deck and do her best (sometimes assisted with a knee) push-up. The hosts assured us that judges were looking for “confidence” as much as “fitness.”
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Talent highlights: Tap-dancing, singing, ballet and gymnastics routines dominated the night. Host McConchie would conclude each display of talent with one-liners like “Better her hit that note than me,” or “Wow, I don’t think anyone would want to see me try to kick that high.” Yes we would, Brian. Yes we would.
Miss Teen Socastee High, Brooke Vu, gave patrons a splash of Hawaiian culture with her standout performance in the teen competition. Strapped in a coconut bikini, Vu rocked and gyrated her straw skirt, increasing the tempo of her dance in sync with the rumble of tribal drums.
Miss Laurens County Teen, Heather Madden, created a unique performance with her speed-painting routine. Moving to the music as she painted a snarling tiger’s face, quotes about self- expression and not being afraid to “paint outside of the lines” echoed through the speakers.
In the Miss pageant, Miss Chesnee, Erin Frost, showed the other tappers how it was done. To the tune of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Boogie Wonderland,” she took the classic “tri-ple” step of the Boogie-woogie to a dizzyingly fast new level.
The show must go on: A handful of contestants competed despite painful injuries. After spraining her ankle only yesterday, Miss Teen Lexington, Marley Stokes, delivered a beautiful, high-kicking dance to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You.” Amanda Compton, Miss Teen Hilton Head, managed to make the clunky knee brace fixed to her leg look fashionable. She also dug deep in the fitness segment, holding her push up for several seconds and refusing to straighten her arms until the audience erupted into cheers.
The next third of contestants will compete in the second round of preliminaries at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Township Auditorium.