Michelle Harrison Wins the Audience’s Hearts

in Culture Insight/Features

There was a baffled buzz in the audience when the spotlights dimmed on the fifth edition of the Mrs Gibraltar beauty pageant at the Alameda Open Theatre, as delegate n.2 Michelle Harrison stood on stage sheathed in her starry-night sequinned gown, the only one of eight contestants not to be awarded any of the ten sashes in play.

Her composure on stage, while her peers were mobbed by relatives and friends for the customary selfies, didn’t go unperceived within the rest of the spectators who wished an extra Beauty Queen of Hearts crown was crafted for her blonde hairdo, and cheered her wholeheartedly.

The show opened on the empty stage dominated by a cinema screen that streamed a sepia montage of the eight delegates embroiled in a G.I. Jane-style rescue mission: we watched the reigning Mrs Gibraltar Kathleen Victory being parachuted over the Rock, and her two princesses diving from a police launch to swim across, shed their wetsuits, and free their successors from the dungeons, to finally have them strut up the Alameda Gardens George Don’s Gate steps in glam fatigues and stilettos.

As soon as the film, written and filmed by Ideal Productions’ crew, faded on screen, the contestants stormed the stage, sashayed all over the place in the very same boiler suits, with not one hair out of place after their mission impossible.

More cinematic prowess (with a purpose!) for the delegates to flaunt their acting skills followed. It raised awareness about domestic violence, the main aim of Mrs Gibraltar on the Rock, and Mrs Universe worldwide.

They re-enacted some of the true stories of domestic abuse that still plague our society, and advised to seek help through the local 8018 hotline: the short film was surely a chilling eye-opener that will hopefully inspire victims to break the code of silence.

After the high-impact prologue, the production was the usual pastiche of glitz and fizz that has become a household name for the Ressa ensemble, spread over two hours of catwalk and entertainment, sprinkled with the few hiccups and bloopers that, according to one of the presenters and former winner, is what makes live shows alive.

All previous winners were featured in the show, from the one who started it all, and is pretty much spearheading the beauty-with-purpose project, Serika Garcia, to her successors Rachel Martinez, Megan Danino and Kathleen Victory.

A couple of dance routines under their (tight) belt, the delegates faced the most dreaded moment for all aspiring beauty queens: the interview. This was replaced by individual presentations on historical women who, according to them, made the difference in the world, and why they inspired each delegate to pick them. So we heard about scientists, computer programmers, suffragettes and politicians, while their pictures scrolled on screen – and for many of them, and their discoveries or achievements, we wondered why we hadn’t heard of them before, in this all man’s world.

During the intervals, highlights were the vocal performances of Mrs Gibraltar 2017 Megan Danino and rising star Faith Scruton White. 

The first has proved in previous occasions how her understated, sophisticated, petite beauty can indeed go hand in hand with a powerful, warm, intense voice and innate performer’s qualities: and in fact she owned the stage with her harrowing melodies, flouncing about in black mock-leather pants, rock-star style.

Faith’s gig was poppy, dance-y, and freshly in-your-face, as is almost mandatory from a Millennial music graduate, and it broadcast cheeky energy vibes through the balmy night. Definitely a budding talent to watch out for.

A touch of eerie fairytale atmosphere was provided by Mexican violinist Cristina Ortiz who pranced around, gripped in her interpretation of some Hispapop classics, for the length of time that the jury was out.  

The jury was presided by local model and businessman Luisandro Moreno, and included a former beauty queen and an international male model, and other personalities of the world of showbiz and cosmetic industry.

An emotional Mrs Gibraltar 2018 Kathleen Victory, in silvery sequins and winey ruches, saluted the delegates before the prizes and their paraphernalia were handed by Rossanna Ressa, breath-taking in a Monarch butterfly-inspired outfit, and former minister Edwin Reyes in white tuxedo. 

Carla Fonseca’s emerald green frilled frock was draped with the Mrs Friendship sash; Christina Mendez, pixie-like in her powder-pink gown, received the ‘Ideal Productions award’; Chanel Walker, wearing an azure dress, the ‘Ana Lisa Ressa award’ for best achievement in her charity work; and Kathryne Borge got Miss Elegance in her shimmering forest-green garb. 

As widely expected, brunette Grace Baker, and her slashed ruby-red frock, stole the show. She was awarded Mrs Best Interview and Mrs Photogenic, and of course took the crown – and white cape – of Mrs Gibraltar 2019 and was invited to sit on the enchanted throne, with her first princess blonde Claire Rodgers in a white evening dress – also Mrs Catwalk – and second princess, brunette Karina Ortiz in her blush gown, at her sides.


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