Behind the Scenes: Pageant Production

Having produced quite a few pageants, each one comes with its own look, feel and creative energy. The thing that I have absolutely fallen in love with over the years is the ability to bring a thousand little pieces together to create an experience for the audience – this of course is easier said than done! With each pageant production, there has been a lesson learned, something to do better next year and always a little comedic relief behind the scenes. I’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 lessons I have learned over the last 10 years from both a producer and contestant’s point of view:

1. If You Have to Cry Go Outside

Ok – so I don’t say this to be mean spirited. But, if you have never read Kelly Cutrone’s book, If You Have to Cry Go Outside, you need to! It is absolutely a great read and on top of that it relates to pageantry and almost every type of business environment you would ever like to become a part of. I can’t tell you the number of times both as a producer of a pageant and a contestant I have wanted to break down in tears from any variety of reasons: complete exhaustion, extreme emcee mishaps, my dog ate the brooch that belonged to the gown I placed Top 5 at Miss Maryland USA in 2 days before the competition (PS I did eventually cry), etc. but advice from Cutrone goes a little like this , “ You can either let someone be protected from reality or let them be sculpted and birthed by it. I firmly believe the latter option is best.” Don’t let people fool you, pageantry is hard – on both sides it takes extreme dedication, planning and the desire to be great but understanding in advance what you’ve gotten yourself into is key and well if you have to cry do so in your own personal space!

2. Sleep is irrelevant pageant week.

As the daughter of a night ER Physician I learned this lesson early on in life – sleep is a gift. During pageant week, you will suffer from a lack of sleep but  pageant week gives me adrenaline – I absolutely love it! There are some people that most definitely need their sleep to function as their best selves; however, as a producer and a contestant sleep is available after the pageant and all those late night rehearsals and other pageant obligations (i.e. making sure you’re prepared for the next day)!

3. Be Prepared. (I could say this for the next 2 items on the list as well.)

Murphy’s Law. No really, be over prepared. As a contestant I always had extra everything – gowns, make-up, E6000 glue, shoes, interview forms, etc. and as a producer, I have lists for days – rehearsal schedules, walking patterns, 2 sets of opening number dances just in case option 1 goes up in flames, etc. It may seem a bit much but being over prepared has saved my sanity on many occasions and you will not regret it. And side note for all you out there that think you need to spend thousands of dollars to be prepared – you don’t! Be smart about it, going into debt to compete in a pageant is never OK.

4. The show will go on.

I’m a firm believer that any production or event should start on time. I can’t tell you how many pageants I have been a part of were contestants didn’t make it to the stage in time because they were still getting ready; but, what I can guarantee is regardless the show will happen. So, make good use of your time, get a rhythm down and get it done!

5. Laugh.

I have a long list of what I feel like are incredibly dreadful things that have happened before a pageant production both as a contestant and a producer and some of the things you truly just have to laugh at and remember that at the end of the day, it’s a pageant – you’re not solving the world’s problems and life goes on. Have fun, do what you’ve prepared for, execute and figure out how to be better the next time around.

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