Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013 | 6:08 p.m.
2013 Miss America second prelims
There couldn’t have been a more appropriate song to sing! Miss Maryland Joanna Guy selected “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Miserables” for the talent competition at Wednesday’s second-night preliminaries of the 2013 Miss America Pageant at PH Live in Planet Hollywood, and that dream came true.
She stunned the theater and held a near sold-out crowd in silence before they erupted in applause. Little wonder that she was declared winner of the $2,000 Amway scholarship.
Knockout statuesque Miss Illinois Megan Ervin also won the night in lifestyle and fitness in a Catalina swimsuit, the bathing suit manufacturer for the Miss America contestants 90 years ago in Atlantic City.
Afterward backstage, Miss America board member and 1955 Miss America Lee Meriwether talked with the two scholarship winners:
Even though they dazzled, I was incredibly impressed with the baton-twirling act of Miss Texas Danae Couch. On this night of dreams, she revealed that her dream is to compete in the Olympics. That will happen one day, but I’m betting that Cirque du Soleil will offer her $$$ to showcase her in one of their productions here. She’s a magician and juggles three of the batons at once while leaping mid-air. Phenomenal!
Only the amazing Miss America Outstanding Teens who presented a dance acrobatics spectacular that also could wind up in a Cirque show topped that. Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for today’s photo galleries.
Former Miss New Jersey and comedienne Dena Blizzard hosted for the second night and talked celebrity judges Cheryl Burke of “Dancing With the Stars” and Daymond John of “Shark Tank” up onstage for a dance contest. He failed on “Gangnam Style,” and the “DWTS” pro dancer champion beauty won with a showgirl headdress and a hula hoop. Olympic gold-medalist gymnast McKayla Maroney was dragged into the fun and will now have to wear a $29 pair of pleather pants for tonight’s third-preliminary competition.
It was a second consecutive win for Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers. The tall blonde beauty was presented with the Miracle Maker Award by Children’s Miracle Network hospitals for being the contestant who raised the most funds from her state title to arriving here. She won lifestyle and fitness on the first evening and proved a talented -- almost ferocious -- pianist in Wednesday’s talent section. With two awards, Ali is being tipped for the Final Five on Saturday’s ABC telecast.
“The Bachelor” host Chris Harrison, who hosts the pageant with Brooke Burke-Charvet on Saturday, was an onstage drop-in last night -- and professed his undying love for Lee. She later appeared onstage with “the rose” for him. Chris told me they met when he hosted Miss America in Atlantic City in 2004 and had become good friends, keeping in touch often ever since.
Lee, a radiant beauty at 77, credits her win as Miss America on that TV broadcast in 1955 for her acting career. “It helped me with my chosen life’s work. Halfway through my year’s tour as Miss America, I was invited to become a regular on the ‘Today’ show,” she said.
Back then, the crown, robe and scepter were handed down year to year, but hers was lost in a 1962 storm and washed out to sea along with her swimsuit. “Back then, we wore modest one-pieces. Today, the modern girls look wonderful in the bikinis, but they move around onstage. We had to stand forever while the judges looked at us from the front, the back, the side. That was awful!”
Lee and other Miss America winners have now arrived, and we had lunch today at Vintner Grill in Summerlin. They parade onstage together tonight and on Saturday’s telecast.
Director and producer Tony Eaton told me last night that he was thrilled that the USAF Thunderbirds flew over Planet Hollywood a second time Monday when reigning Miss America Laura Kaeppeler delivered her show-opening lines.
“On the first pass over the Strip, the angle was all wrong; it was impossible to get Laura and the jets. She didn’t flub. Thankfully on the second final pass, it was a perfect flyover angle. It will open the show Saturday -- pretty spectacular, to say the least!”
BTW, we’ve received numerous questions about the pageant from readers. Here’s a quick series of answers: the girls are permitted to wear whatever height high heels they wish; they are permitted to wear hair extensions; for talent, they are permitted their choice of performance; and they are not required to know more than the one they perform. However, I’m reliably told that anyone who plays piano has a full repertoire. Many of the girls are spiritual, but the Bible makes no mention of not being competitive with one another!
Vegas DeLuxe will have coverage of tonight’s third and final preliminary competition here on Friday. Also check back for our interviews with the seven celebrity judges and let them explain just how difficult it is to choose a winner.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
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Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
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