Step 1: Pick Your Producer
The producer of a pageant has to have an iron will, a creative flair, and the ability to think very fast on his/her feet. In fact, most people would agree that two co-producers are better than one single producer. They can bounce ideas off each other and carry the heavy tasks together.
Who should you actually pick as your producer? Well, that depends. If you are a big state pageant that has a budget that allows for a professional (or even semi-professional) producer, go for it. But be sure to educate them on the nature of a pageant and all the different components that will be required.
If you aren’t a big state pageant with an equally big budget, we suggest you find a former contestant to produce your show. Many volunteers and former contestants will back up this advice. Put simply, the just have more experience.
“A producer who has experience as a contestant makes them understanding, and driven to create a show worthy of this incredible organization,” says Alex Duchemin Jacobson, former Miss Washington contestant and current volunteer.
Step 2: Choose Your Theme
A lot of directors like to have a theme for their pageant, be it “Sixty Years of Miss State” or “Denim and Diamonds” or “Miss State Goes to Las Vegas.” Other directors choose to have no theme and simply have their pageant titled Miss SoandSo 2014, for example.
There is no right answer when it comes to picking a theme. We’ve been to excellent pageants with very intricate themes and we have been to equally wonderful pageants with no theme at all. Ultimately, you have to choose what you are most capable of doing. If you do pick a specific theme, the scrip, production numbers, and stage dressings should all go along with the theme. For some programs, that is simply too much of an undertaking.
Step 3: Write Your Script
Once you have your producer and your theme, it’s time to nail down the script. You may leave this task up to the producer completely or you may opt to work on it together. Regardless, a script must be easy-to-follow and entertaining for the audience.
If you have chosen a theme, you will want to include little tidbits of dialogue that refer to your theme and explain it, to a certain extent.
When working on a script, start with a list of things that you MUST include in it. This list will contain names of sponsors, names of contestants, the judging criteria, the names and bios of the judges, and whatever other pertinent information you would like to share with your audience.
Once you have a list of all the “must haves” you can begin to build an entertaining script about them. Your emcees should be able to carry off a few jokes for the audience.
You will also want to include your outgoing titleholder, formers, and (potentially) your teen titleholder as well. You will want to prep these people on the questions they will be asked on stage, but refrain from scripting their answers. Only the best actresses can pull off a scripted answer without looking scripted.
“I think a good script has a theme that is easy to follow through with in stage design, entertainment and competition music. It talks about the process just enough to make sure the uninitiated in the audience know what's happening without droning. The script mentions sponsors occasionally and refers folks to the program for more info so it's not a mini commercial. And, the script moves the pageant along as quickly as reasonably possible,” says Cheri A. Moore, a volunteer with the Miss Washington pageant.
Step 4: Incorporate Entertainment and Production Numbers
A pageant wouldn’t be a pageant without some well-choreographed production numbers and a few entertaining performers. They will add a certain something to your pageant, plus it will give your contestants time to change outfits and give the judges’ time to complete their scoring. It will also give the auditors a chance to tally the results.
Typically, a pageant will open with a production number featuring the contestants. This is a fun, upbeat way to start the show and introduce the ladies to the audience.
“Fun and exciting dance numbers are entertaining and showcase ALL contestants,” says Alex.
Your contestants may have varied dancing skills, but be sure to have at least two production numbers where they are all featured and can introduce themselves to the audience.
If you have a Princess program as a companion to your pageant, you will certainly want to include the Princesses in at least one production number. Keep it simple and cute: the audience will love the Princesses no matter what.
When it comes to including other talent in your pageant, it really is a matter of both time and opinion. If you have time to fill, then by all means have your outgoing titleholder perform, or your Outstanding Teen can perform her talent. Some states, like Montana, choose to include community talent acts in their show. This is a charming and fun way to draw in the community to your pageant.
When it comes down to it, the show must go on. And if you follow this easy guide, the show will not only go on—it will be a success!
Written by: Julie Anne Wieland