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NSU Theatre taking part in Kennedy Center Festival
Two productions entered and 14 students honored for work done this fall
By David West

NATCHITOCHES – Two Northwestern State University Theatre and Dance productions have been entered into the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. Fourteen theatre and dance students have also been recognized for their work in fall productions.

Northwestern State entered two fall shows, “Smokey Joe’s Café and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in the regional festival. Regional representatives from other colleges and universities in a six-state area attended performances of both shows. Approximately 150 productions were submitted for consideration with up to 40 advancing to the second round. Six to eight shows will be presented at the regional festival at the Strand Theatre in Shreveport February 26 – March 2. Northwestern State is in a region with colleges and universities from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

“Taking part in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival gives us an opportunity to bring attention to Northwestern State and the students in our theatre and dance program,” said Andrew Lewis, director of musical theatre and an assistant professor of theatre. “The festival provides a chance for our students to take part in workshops and other learning experiences and lets outside professionals give us valuable feedback about our productions.”

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide. More than 600 academic institutions take part. Festival participants celebrate the creative process, see one another's work and share experiences and insights within the community of theater artists. The Festival honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing and design.

Regional festivals showcase the finest of each region's entered productions and offer a variety of activities, including workshops, symposia and regional-level award programs. Regional festival productions are judged by a panel of three judges selected by the Kennedy Center and the Festival national committee. These judges in consultation with the artistic director select four to six of the best and most diverse regional festival productions to be showcased in the spring at the annual noncompetitive national festival.

Six students were nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship which provides recognition, honor and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards 19 regional awards and two fellowships annually. Sixteen of the awards consist of a $500 scholarship for each regional representative of the Festival. The scholarship is named for Ryan, who is best known for playing Granny on the “Beverly Hillbillies.”

Nominated from “Smokey Joe’s Café” were David Brumfield and Taylor Morgan of Prairieville and Julian Anderson of Pineville. Nominated from the cast of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” were Timothy Callais and Tim Sandifer of Baton Rouge and Nina Breeland of Ruston.

Three students, Tori Cormier of Lake Charles, Deangelo Renard of Mandeville and Lauren Waguespack of Gonzales were nominated for musical theatre initiatives for “Smokey Joes Café.” The goal of the initiative is to celebrate and recognize outstanding musical theatre students.

Natalie Sibille of Sunset received a meritorious achievement award for costume design for “Smokey Joe’s Café.” Four students earned meritorious achievement awards for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Shalem Johnson of Marshall, Texas, for choreography, Nick Lena of Alexandria for sound design, Alaina Davis of Sulphur for hair/makeup design and Kellie Bowles of Tyler, Texas, for props design.