Pageant is collaborative effort

PLAINVIEW - From the moment the first curtain rises, visitors to the Miss Wayland Baptist University pageant will see stunning sets, lively opening numbers and a parade of coeds vying for the title of Miss Wayland 2004. What they won't see is the numerous hours and bevy of people who are making the production run smoothly from start to finish.

Much like a theatre performance, the pageant is a collaborative effort that involves much preparation and planning as well as many hands the two nights of performance.

Themed "All that Jazz," the pageant begins Friday, Nov. 7 with the opening number and talent presentation by each of the 18 contestants, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in Harral Memorial Auditorium. The final pageant begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8, in Harral Auditorium, beginning with the opening number and evening gown competition, the announcement of the top five, and the final question, culminating in the crowning of the new Miss Wayland. A reception will follow in the atrium of the Mabee Learning Resources Center, where other awards will be presented.

Once it hits the stage, however, the production has already been through nearly two months of planning, ordering, rehearsing and general tweaking to get to that point. And if God is in the details, as the saying goes, this event must be blessed.

"There are so many little things to take care of," said Teresa Moore, who took the position of interim student activities coordinator on Sept. 10 and jumped headfirst into planning the pageant. A former Miss Wayland contestant while a student at WBU in the 1990s, Moore at least started with a vague idea of what to do. Still, the laundry list of tasks would be daunting to anyone.

The planning begins with such simple tasks as preparing an application form for contestants and recruiting fliers to be hung around campus. From there, things get a bit more complicated. Choosing a theme for the pageant and coordinating the opening number and costuming are major hurdles early in the planning, and those decisions dictate much of what happens afterward. The reigning Miss Wayland, in this case, Labrina Lang, is in on that early theme decision process, and then helps with planning stage decorations, designing a sweatshirt, writing notes of encouragement to the contestants and planning a makeup party the weekend prior to the pageant. She also helps coordinate rehearsals held the four weeks prior to the contest.

The rest of the long list of responsibilities falls primarily on the Office of Student Activities, who must locate judges, auditors, an emcee, a stage manager and stage crew for the pageant performances. Facilities must be booked and prizes must be secured from local and area businesses. There's food and flowers needed at various points in the process, and choreography for the all-important opening number.

In between checking off chores from the list by day, Moore and her staff have been preparing the contestants by night for the big event. Rehearsals have to cover the dance steps, the proper format for contestant introductions, routes for the evening gown walk, perfecting the individual talent performances and the procedure for interviews with the judges. Mock judges walk the girls through some trial questions then provide pointers dealing with speaking, posture and eye contact.

Finally, last minute tasks like preparing judges' handbooks, ordering the winner's crown and writing the script for the actual pageant performances mean the work is almost coming to an end.

Overall, Moore said 25-30 people will be involved in helping with staging the production, while many more have helped in the earlier stages. And while it may seem to many like too much work, Moore said it's all necessary to achieve the outcome: a special event where one young lady will see her life change.

"Miss Wayland is a face for Wayland, an ambassador," Moore said. "She will be called on to provide representation for the university through entertainment opportunities, speaking engagements, parades and judging for smaller pageants."

Because of that role, Moore said it is vital that the chosen Miss Wayland be a young lady with strong moral character, poise and charm and possess an ability to meet people and be confident and professional. The winner must also maintain a 2.0 grade point average and complete at least 15 hours of coursework before the pageant. She is confident that the judges this year will have a challenge on their hands.

"We have an absolutely top-notch group of girls this year," she said. Many of the contestants are active in student organizations, performance groups, ministry roles, athletics and other activities and are well-rounded students who would represent the university well, she added.

The public is invited to attend the pageant and encourage these students as they compete. Tickets to the performances are $2 for Friday and $3 for Saturday.