'Mrs. Universal' contest comes to Stadium in June

'Mrs. Universal' contest comes to Stadium in June

"Mrs. Universal 40s" contest winner and Woonsocket native, Tonya Hurteau, helped to bring the Miss Universal pageant to the Stadium.

WOONSOCKET - Women from across the country will bring their beauty and charm to downtown Woonsocket in June for the 2nd annual Mrs. USA Universal pageant to be held at The Stadium Theatre.

Rhode Island contestant Christen Meyer of East Greenwich will be among the roughly 30 married ladies to compete in categories including evening wear, lifestyle and fitness/swimsuit, costume, and an on-stage question.

National Director Victoria Hughes held the competition in her home state of Colorado last year, but was brought to Woonsocket in 2014 at the urging of the winner of her "Mrs. Universal 40's" contest - a competition held strictly for women over 40 - Tonya Hurteau. A Woonsocket native, Hurteau now lives in Cumberland and suggested The Stadium as a possible venue. But Hughes said what really convinced her to hold the pageant in the smallest state in the nation was The Stadium's executive director, Cathy Levesque.

"She's just the kind of warm, fun and crazy person I love to work with," said Hughes.

The competition has yet to gain the notoriety of some of the larger, more established pageants such as "Miss Universe" or even "Mrs. America," but according to Hughes, offers a growing alternative for women looking for new choices in the pageant circuit.

"We are fresh and new and more modern and more progressive," she said, citing the event's in-theater production, choreography and use of modern music.

"Women are tired of the same old thing," Hughes said. "They want more opportunities."

The conventional pageants, Hughes said, become costly for contestants and the tight-knit contests present few chances for winning.

"People are afraid to step out of the circle for fear they won't be able to come back," she said. "I'm very different. The contestants aren't just a number. I treat them all as friends."

The winner will travel to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to take part in the Mrs. Universal Pageant.

"She'll spend 10 days out of the country competing for the international title," Hughes said.

The contestants will stay at Omni Providence Hotel and have a photo shoot planned in Newport before the event, staying in Rhode Island for a total of five days, from June 12 through 17.