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Theater students win big in Colorado

UP thespians perform in Fort Collins, Colo. and return with great memories and scholarships

By Nikki Robles
On February 23, 2012

Students in UP's theater program received more than applause last week at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival hosted at Colorado State University.

Twenty-nine UP drama students and several professors traveled to Fort Collins, Colo. to compete with other college students in directing, acting and costume and set designs.

The hard work paid off as UP students won scholarships and made it to finals in both the Irene Ryan Acting and Scene Director and Choreographer's (SDC) competitions.

Senior Eleanor Johnson and UP alumna (2011) Danielle Larson won full ride scholarships to the California State University summer arts program in Monterey, Calif. Johnson was also invited to join the Actor's Gang Style and Commedia dell' Arte program and the Chicago Style Comedy Improv program.

Seniors Adrienne Shelnutt and Eric Lyness advanced to SDC finals, which tested their scene directing skills. Shelnutt won second place in the region.

Lyness and sophomore Jordin Bradley advanced to the final round of the Irene Ryan acting competition, which required students to perform two-person scenes and monologues.

"It was crazy, I wasn't expecting to get that far," Bradley said.

Although junior Rachel Thomas did not advance in the competitions, she hopes to do better in the 2013 competition.

"It's a week of really intense emotions. It can be a little heartbreaking to know that we are no longer advancing," Thomas said.

In addition to the competitions and workshops, UP performed its nominated "All in the Timing" play in front of other competitors.

"The fact that our play was chosen was a huge honor," Johnson said.

Out of hundreds of plays that are nominated, only four are chosen to perform.

"It felt really good for all of us to be one of the four (plays) selected to go," junior Kayley Casian said.

Casian traveled to Colorado specifically to oversee the reprise of "All in the Timing," while Larsen drove the entire set from the play to Colorado for the performance.

Thomas cited Wednesday as her busiest day in the conference, which consisted of arriving at the theatre at 6 a.m., assembling sets in a matter of hours then performing "All in the Timing" twice.

"It was an insane day, but it was really fun. I think we did very well. Everyone enjoyed the performance," Bradley said.

The festival brought a lot of emotion for the theatre students, who were able to display their acting abilities in front of others who have similar aspirations.

For Johnson, her final year competing at the festival was bittersweet.

"One of the best things that this festival does is remind you that the arts are really important and that it has a strong and important place in society," Johnson said.

Since their return home, several of the UP competitors, along with freshman newcomer Amanda Schenberger, are now looking forward to the upcoming theatre production of Lillian Hellman's "The Children's Hour."

"It's a play about the power of a rumor and the power of words," Schenberger said.

"The Children's Hour" is directed by Caity Crisp and premieres Feb. 29 and will run until March 4. The play is iu Mago Hunt Theater and will start at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday.

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