Trustus Theatre will crown its 14th Vista Queen Monday, May 21st at the theatre located at 520 Lady Street in the Vista. The annual drag pageant fundraiser starring local men features six men vying for the title. This year's theme is (Vista) Queen of the Night, a tribute to the late Whitney Houston. The event is sponsored by Revente and Revente's Last Call.
Vista Queen pageant originator and this year's producer Larry Hembree says, "Normally the talent portion of the event is the most challenging for the contestants. Not this year. Each one brings an enormous amount of uniqueness with panache that will make decision making for the judges and the audience very difficult. People will be very surprised and potentially frightened."
In addition to talent, each contestant will also don a beautiful evening gown and answer an onstage question chosen specifically for them. The combination of the scores of a panel of live judges and donations made by the community in support of each contestant before and during the event decides the winner.
The winner of the Vista Queen sash (sponsored by Jasper Magazine) will represent Trustus throughout the year at events including the lighting of the Vista holiday tree at Vista Lights. Past Vista Queens include Richland County Sherriff Leon Lott and Senator Jake Knotts. Giving up his/her crown this year will be arts writer Jeffrey Day.
Participants this year include quirky lawyer, musician, filmmaker and creator of the Krewe de Columbi-Ya-Ya Mardi Gras Festival Tom Hall; composer, producer of Mr. B's Goodtime Karaoke and trend setter Chris Bickel; The State's arts, entertainment, TV, nightlife, culture reporter and intense multi-tasker Otis Taylor; tall WOLO news anchor and creator of "Hidden Columbia" Anderson Burns; Historic Columbia's Director of Cultural Resources and type A intellectual John Sheerer and former educator, local actor, elocutionist and funeral home employee Gerald Floyd.
Returning for the second year will be hostesses CJ Grant and Alexia Bonet. Choreographer Terrance Henderson will stage the opening number with Clay Owens serving as stage manager.
Judges for the event include new city councilman Cameron Runyan, Revente owner Debbie McDaniel, Congaree Vista Guild Executive Director Sarah Luadzers and Columbia screenwriter and playwright Robbie Robertson.
Trustus will accept donations several ways. Donations will be accepted at the theatre from 1-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday, or by calling the theatre at 803-254-9732, mailing a check with the name of the supported contestant to this address: Vista Queen, Trustus Theatre, 520 Lady Street, Columbia, SC 29201.
Doors for the event open at 6 p.m. with the show beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets for the fundraiser are $35 each and can be reserved by calling the theatre at (803) 254-9732. All proceeds benefit Trustus Theatre.
For additional information, visit www.trustus.org or visit the event page "(Vista) Queen of the Night" on Facebook.