Lights. Camera. Cru Knights.
The legendary man pageant is one of the highlights of the spring semester. Each year, male students from across campus come together to represent an organization or group.
They dance, make videos, strut and compete to win the title of Mr. Crusader Knights.
This year, 23 men hit the stage under the direction of junior computer graphics design major Lauren Theodore. The goal was to put on a show that would transport audiences back in time and showcase the hard work each contestant put into the performance.
For this year’s theme, the directors selected Roaring Twenties. Each advertisement and decoration featured Art Deco elements, and all the glittering gold and extravagance resembled a party Jay Gatsby himself would be proud to host. The set, designed by junior exercise sport science major Shannon McGorty, wowed audiences and cast members alike.
Sophomore public relations major Katie Valenzuela helped run social media on the promotions team. She was excited to find ways to make the theme come to life for the audience.
“We were like ‘Hey, come dressed in your best Roaring Twenties Great Gatsby outfit,’” Valenzuela said. “We (wanted) to transport these people into a different place and really create an awesome show for them, so for the audience to be able to be part of the production is something really neat.”
Juniors Braxton Tucker and Taylor O’Rear emceed the event, transitioning between dances and videos with 20s-styled jokes and one-liners.
“Please silence all cell phones because they don’t even exist yet,” Tucker quipped on opening night.
The competition began Friday with parody videos submitted by each contestant. Their assignment was to spoof a viral YouTube or music video. New spins were put on old favorites ranging from “Charlie Bit Me” to the Sonic commercials with those two guys in a car, and a few music videos in between. After each cluster of parodies, one set of men would perform their group dance on stage. The contestants ended the night with a large group dance.
Saturday evening was filled with struts, interviews and plenty of dancing. Former Mr. Cru Knights and alumnus Tanner Clarke was featured in a number before crowning this year’s champion later in the evening.
“I’m really blessed to do this from a different perspective. Getting to pour into these guys every single day, doing devotionals at practices, really helped me to be part of their lives even though I wasn’t a student anymore,” Clarke said. “Giving away at this point is a blessing for me because I get to pass on what I had as a student to somebody else.”
After an interview session with the top five finalists, the award ceremony began.
The men in Group Three took home the award for Best Small Group Dance.
Mr. Johnson Hall, Tommy Pierce’s “Wrecking Ball” parody took home the Campus Choice award, while Mr. Senior Class Andy, MacAteer’s spoof of The Blindside won the Judges’ Choice.
The Timothy Award for most Christlike behavior was given to Mr. Independence Village, junior nursing major Nathan Forester.
At the end of the night, senior Spanish major Tommy Pierce earned the crown and was dubbed 2014 Mr. Crusader Knights.
While the show is widely recognized for its parodying of the more formal Miss MHB pageant, Theodore hopes audiences see it as more than that.
“Cru Knights has been a spoof event for quite some time. A long time ago, the winner used to win like a can of green beans,” she said. “It’s still got that humor to it … but I’m trying to make the school realize … just as much work goes into putting everything together.”
Theodore and her assistant directors are proud of the work each contestant has poured into being part of the event.
“They’ve all worked super hard and danced for hours. They’ve been super creative with their small group dances, and they’ve just been really patient with us as directors as we’re learning just as much as they’re learning,” she said. “I appreciate every one of them.”
For Mr. McLane Hall, Ryan White, there was great reward in working hard.
“My favorite part of Crusader Knights was definitely the first time that we finished Friday night’s dance,” he said in his top ten interview. “Everybody was just so jacked, pumped and excited. I felt like in that moment is whenever we all understood what it meant to be a Crusader Knights and what it meant to be in this sort of brotherhood….”
For more photos from this year’s Cru Knights, visit our Facebook page