TJ’s beloved tradition returns with a new twist to the classic show.
On Friday, April 13th, which happens to also be Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, Thomas Jefferson High School hosted their annual Mr. TJ pageant, showcasing nine seniors competing for the titles of Mr. Talent, Mr. Congeniality, and Mr. TJ. Seniors Malek Abusnina, Landon Cramer, Jake Downing, Kyle Moe, Aidan Maloof, James Oss, Josh Raykin, Conner Side, and Jake Tracy took the stage alongside their senior escorts Cecelia Allen, Chloe Bartels, Katie Balay, Laura Brandon, Maia Freedberg, Avery Hericks, Molly Little, Lucy Peterson, and Chloe Richter, to compete in Mr. TJ, but with a new twist: a spy theme.
The escorts entered the stage to the Pink Panther theme, and then awaited the entrance of the men, donned in spy coats, to the Mission Impossible theme. The group then performed their opening dance number to a mashup of the songs “Toxic” by Britney Spears and “Filthy” by Justin Timberlake. While in many years past the contestants performed the opening dance number to the song “Raining Men,” choreographers decided to make a change to the show so as to introduce a fresh spin to the years-long tradition. The show continued with an introduction of the contestants followed by the talent portion of the competition. Following the talent portion of the show, the men participated in the rose ceremony, trying to win their escorts over by presenting them a rose in a creative way. After their escorts finally accepted the rose, the contestants were asked a random question that helped the judges decide who might be crowned Mr. Congeniality.
Once each contestant got their roses, the judges left the auditorium to deliberate about who would take home the title of Mr. Talent, Mr. Congeniality, and Mr. TJ. After performing his rendition of “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band, Cramer was crowned Mr. Talent for winning the judges over with his strong vocals, Abusnina was awarded the title of Mr. Congeniality, and Oss was named this year’s Mr. TJ. Oss mentioned,“I didn’t expect to win anything going in, I just wanted to have a good time up on stage with my friends.” He was named Mr. TJ for his strong talent performance, singing the song “Tired of Being Alone,” and for winning his escort Bartels over in the rose ceremony, having his dog come on stage to present the rose.
For two months leading up to the show, the contestants and emcees Zoya Robbins and Sevi Harden spent over 25 hours in total outside of school to perfect their opening dance number, individual talents, and rose presentations. “The amount of time we had to give up was tough, but nothing is more rewarding than walking on stage and hearing your peers be so excited and feeling the energy in the room as we performed for everyone,” commented Cramer. This year’s senior participants worked extremely hard to put on another exciting show, carrying on an over 30 year tradition.