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Students Excel at Theatre Festival

February 5, 2019

Emporia State University Theatre returned from their trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival 51 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota Saturday afternoon Jan. 26 after a busy week of auditions, competitions, showcases and performances. They also brought back a number of awards and commendations.

Andrew Ralston (Topeka) and Hewleek McKoy (Olathe) made it to the semifinals for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. 337 student actors competed in the auditions and after the first day only 64 were advanced to the semi-final round.  Other ESU students in the auditions were Torin Horvik (Fargo, ND), Jack Greenwood (Valley Center), Elizabeth Tate (Sand Srings, OK), Mollie McClanahan (Topeka) and Rachel Muirhead (Hays).

McKoy, Olivia Nunnelley (Goddard) and Zulema Renteria (Emporia) auditioned for the Music Theatre Intensive that presented a performance before the recognition ceremony on Thursday January 24. McKoy was selected for the cast of 24 from over 100 student performers.

Brian Percival (Olathe) and Lucas Coble (Olpe) were participants in the 10-Minute Play auditions and performances.  Percival directed the national finalist 10-minute play “Uber” by Taylor Sklenar from the University of Missouri.  Coble was in the cast that performed the play on Friday afternoon.  Dustin Bittel (Ellis) was a stage manager for the 10-minute play “The White Bovina” by Blake Willoughby from the University of Missouri. 

Justin Scheck (Gardner) brought a scene for the Student Directing Competion which featured a total of 15 scenes. Scheck directed a scene from “Polaroid Stories” by Naomi Iizuka featuring Bittel, Miranda Kimble (Mullinville) and Evan Grantham (Girard). 

Bittel and Kimble also participated in the National Stage Management Fellowship. As part of the fellowship, both stage managed a major event held at the festival. Kimble’s assignment was the Irene Ryan final auditions on Friday night. 

Several ESU students showed their technical design and construction skills in the Design, Technology and Managment Expo at KCACTF.  Matt Mahr (Overland Park) and Ralston both entered designs in the national design competition.  Ralston’s costume designs for “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” earned him an honorable mention as the national runner-up from Region 5 of KCACTF.  Presenting in the regional expo were McClanahan, Maddie Simmons (Emporia), Nunnelly and Dayne Sabatos (Burlington).

The Tech Crew Showdown team of Mahr, Simmons, Tyler Lang (Wichita) and Isabella Harvey (McPherson) competed in the preliminary rounds on Tuesday and were selected for the finals against teams from St. Ambrose University and St. Mary’s University. At the closing ceremonies, costumes from ten productions in the region were featured in the Region 5 Costume Parade.  Susie Williams was able to showcase her costume designs for “Pippin”

ESU Theatre’s spring 2018 production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” received numerous commendations.  Faculty designers Nancy Pontius and Amanda Dura received commendations for scenic design and costume design.  Alum Abbi Timmermeyer (Wichita) received one for stage management. Director of Theatre, Jim Bartruff, received commendations for his direction of both “Arsenic and Old Lace” and “Pippin.” Pontius also received a commendation for her scenic and lighting designs for “Pippin”.

Over 1500 students and teachers attended the festival this year representing schools from  Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

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