The Miss A talent judges choose the cellist

Posted: September 19, 2003

It takes more than mere talent to win a preliminary talent competition at the Miss America pageant. Judges prefer material that's familiar, but not boring. And timing is everything.

Consider perky Miss Utah Stacy Johnson, who overcame a disability (her hips rotate inward) by taking gymnastics. On Wednesday night she performed an energetic Latin jazz dance to "Man of La Mancha."

Unfortunately, she was just one of four dancers that night who wore red-and-black costumes, and madly fluttered lace fans while dancing to Latin themes.

Miss Delaware Erin Williams, gorgeous in a white gown, sang beautifully. But isn't it time to say goodbye to "Time to Say Goodbye"?

The edgiest performance was by Miss New Jersey Jennifer Farrell, who did a dramatic ballet to "Via Dolorosa" that reenacted Jesus' journey on the road to his crucifixion.

In an era when almost anything goes (and nobody blinks at Miss Minnesota's nine piercings - four per ear and her navel) it still looks daring to inject religion into art.

The talent judges went with the cello player. Miss Wisconsin Tina Sauerhammer, the only contestant with an M.D. after her name, played "The Swan." You'd recognize the tune.

Miss Virginia Nancy Redd, in a saucy electric-yellow bikini, took the swimsuit prize.

Preliminaries were to continue last night, leading up to the show tomorrow at 8 p.m. It'll be televised on ABC (Channel 6) and kicked off by elfin American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken singing "This Is the Night."

Meanwhile, for those who wonder why swimsuit competitors all seem to be wearing glass slippers, it's not an homage to Cinderella. Clear plastic shoes elongate the leg.

Taupe shoes also work, according to the experts at www.pageantdiva.com. "Apply your foundation to the taupe to better blend into your skin tone," they suggest.

More contest trivia: Miss A provides insight into popular names for girls born between 1979 and 1984.

Allison, Amber, Andrea, Candace, Jessica, Melissa, Nicole and Sara are each represented twice. There's a Whitney (Miss Arkansas) and a Madonna (Miss Michigan).

And Miss Idaho's name sounds like a subliminal message to a prospective fiance: It's Tiffany Jewell.

Contact staff writer Beth Gillin at 215-854-2917 or bgillin@phillynews.com.

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