SHOWSTOPPERS: Miss Mississippi production underway for 2022 competition

Published 4:03 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Candidates competing for the title of Miss Mississippi spend countless hours preparing for the competition — but they’re not the only ones putting in work.

Those involved with the production of the show also devote an inordinate amount of time readying for the competition, especially Nancy Robertson and Jennifer Tillotson, who serves as producer and co-producer, respectively.

The first order of business in the preparation process Robertson said, is coming up with a theme, and this year it is “Journey to the Crown.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“Jennifer came up with the theme and then we collaborated on searching for music that would support it,” Robertson said.

From there, the duo collaborated with André Huff and Ariel Gee, who create the stage designs and lighting used during performances.

Robertson said they also work with Vicksburg resident Kimble Slaton.

“We collaborate with Kimble to purchase the soundtracks for the music,” Robertson said, and from there they set up times to record a performance track in Slaton’s studio for all the production numbers used in the competition.

Robertson added that those performing in the show receive the music several months in advance of the Miss Mississippi Competition so they can prepare.

Songs performed in this year’s Miss Mississippi Competition include “Wings” by Little Mix and “Just Believe” by Pink Zebra.

“’Wings’ is our opening song, and the reason we chose it was because it has catchy lyrics and a beat that will have the audience members tapping their toes and maybe even feeling the urge to get up and join the dance,” Tillotson said.

“Just Believe” will be sung during the evening wear phase of the competition by Miss Mississippi 2021 Holly Brand and Miss Mississippi 2018 and Miss USA 2020 Asya Branch.

Musical selections “Hair in the Air,” “Dance Through the Day” and “Get Up and Dance” will be performed by the Miss Mississippi Belles and Beaus.

Robertson said Vicksburg resident Taylor Thomas will serve as choreographer for the production.

“We are thrilled beyond measure to have Taylor joining the production once again as choreographer. Her attention to detail and top-notch talent in her field are second to none. She is calm, cool, collected and organized from every angle of the production, and she makes everyone she meets feel like royalty,” Robertson said.

Sam Lovorn will be the choreographer for the Miss Mississippi Belles and Beaus.

Serving as this year’s emcees are Jonathan Brannan, who has hosted the Miss Mississippi Competition in the past, Tillotson said, and Miss Mississippi 2002 Jennifer Adcock Pierce.

“We also have some amazing dancers this year,” Robertson said.

Those performing are Vicksburg resident Kevin Arredondo, Keshon Hicks, Libby Newell and Vicksburg native Molleigh Wallace.

Robertson and Tillotson combined have been teaching music in the Vicksburg Warren School District for 61 years — Robertson has 41 years and Tillotson has 26.

In addition to teaching in the public school system, they have worked with church choirs, Bible schools and mission trips. Robertson also directed a music camp for children. “Can’t Stop Singing,” for 25 years with Tillotson serving as the pianist.

The pair were also in charge of the musical productions at Warren Central High School for close to 20 years.

Robertson and Tillotson stated that producing the Miss Mississippi Competition is comparable to producing the high school musicals.

“The only difference is that not only do we have to direct and stage the production, but we also have to write it, rehearse it with players spread out all over the state, and bring it all together in one short week instead of 9 weeks,” Robertson said. “That is quite a challenge, but a whole lot of fun when you see it all come together.”

Video produced by Tat Ross.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

email author More by Terri Cowart