Tillotson debuts as producer
Pageants and productions are not new for Jennifer Tillotson.
The Vicksburg native worked as a secretary for the Miss Mississippi Pageant office during summer breaks from college, and she has more than 20 years experience producing musical stage productions for high school and elementary students. So when approached to serve as the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen producer, she said yes.
“I was very excited to take on this new musical venture,” Tillotson said following the executive director of the teen pageant Winky Freeman’s offer.
Serving as the producer is a volunteer job, and Tillotson said the position includes deciding on a theme for the pageant, choosing music for each aspect of the show, selecting a wardrobe for each production number, seeking out entertainers to perform and finding professionals to help make the show come to life.
“I chose to use as many of the same professionals [which include choreographer, sound director, lighting director] as possible that have been working with the pageant in the past,” Tillotson said.
“With this being my first year, I wanted to learn all that I can from these experienced people. Why change something when it works?”
Tillotson said she did the same with the volunteers who are instrumental in helping make the pageant a success.
“It certainly has made my job a lot easier, especially since I am the new kid on the block,” she said, and added that is has also been a wonderful surprise and experience to get to work with all of the “great” volunteers that make up the Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen organization.
In addition to working with the volunteers and professionals, Tillotson’s said she has also enjoyed having the opportunity to work with the reigning pageant queens.
“One of the highlights has been getting to know and work with Miss Mississippi’s Outstanding Teen Stella Ford and Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis in preparation for the pageant. Stella Ford is our main entertainer along with Evan Busbin and Collin Brumfield,” she said. “These young people are so talented and such a joy to work with.”
It has been the combination of teaching music and working with the pageant that fostered Tillotson’s passion for working with the teen contestants.
“As a music teacher, it is one of my joys in seeing a student discover their talent and work to develop that talent,” she said. “With the pageant, I feel my job is to help provide an opportunity for these talented young ladies to shine and share their light with others.”
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