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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Success at KCACTF Region V Festival in 2011

The Odyssey tops in awards; lead actor third in acting competition

Minnesota State University, Mankato presented its production of The Odyssey to the almost 1,500 registrants of the Region V KCACTF gathering at Iowa State University during festival week, Jan. 16-22, 2011.

This production won more Certificates of Merit than any other of the almost 200 involved from over 78 colleges and universities from the seven state region (including Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Missouri). They included one for the entire cast for Ensemble Acting, to Tom Bliese (Faculty Emeritus) for Set Design, Steve Smith (Faculty) for Lighting Design, Mike Croswell (Guest Artist) for Sound Design, David McCarl (Faculty) for Mask Design, Matthew A. Gilbertson (senior BFA Design/Tech from Lino Lakes) for Stage Management and to Paul J. Hustoles (Faculty) for Direction.

The production was subsequently “Held for Consideration” by the National Selection Team for possible inclusion in the National Festival in Washington DC in April at the Kennedy Center.

Clayton Rutschow (senior, BFA Acting, Red Wing) placed as 1st Alternate in the prestigious Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition, ably partnered by recent BFA Acting alumnae Meredith Larson. In essence, this is third place from over 400 students eligible to compete. He portrayed "Odysseus" in the Minnesota State production of The Odyssey. In addition to Rutschow, five students advanced to the Semifinal round (MSU had more Semifinalists than any other school) including: Anthony DePoto (2nd Year MFA Acting, Danbury, CT) partnered by Natalie Schleusner (senior BFA Musical Theatre, Rock Rapids, IA); Sara Pillatski-Warzeha (2nd Year MFA Acting, LaBolt, SD) partnered by Tim Gagne (senior BS Generalist/Mass Communications double major, Roseville); Joseph B. Crook (senior BFA Actor, Delano) partnered by Emily Jansen (sophomore BFA Musical Theatre, St. Peter); Dustin Jackson (junior BFA Acting, Sioux Falls, SD) partnered by Emma Ottoson (junior BFA Musical Theatre, Vadnais Heights); J. Alexander Coe (senior BFA Musical Theatre, St. Paul) partnered by Lauren Mikeal Parsons (2nd Year MFA Musical Theatre, Waco, TX), who also won Best Partner in the Semifinal Round. A total of 13 Minnesota State Mankato students competed in the Ryan competition, tied for the highest number in the region and one of the highest in the nation.

Matthew A. Gilbertson (mentioned above) also won the National Stage Management Fellowship for Region V and will now go to the National Festival in Washington, DC. Kaija Pellinen (senior BA Theatre Generalist, Virginia) took 1st place in Theatre Dramaturgy for Woyzeck. Costumes by faculty member David McCarl for Chicago were invited to participate in the annual Costume Parade.

In addition to the seven commendations for The Odyssey listed above, MSU captured two commendations from KCACTF for previous work, including: Achievement in Costume Design for 42nd Street to David McCarl and to Megan Gredesky (MFA Directing alumnae, Fargo, ND) for Assistant Direction and Dramaturgy for Twelfth Night. During the past year, faculty members Paul Finocchiaro and Heather Hamilton have served as Region V Respondents. Faculty member John Paul responded to many productions, served on the Region V Selection Committee and is the Region V Chair of Design, Technologies and Management. Finocchiaro served as an Irene Ryan Preliminary Round Judge and he presented workshops along with faculty member George Grubb. Finocchiaro was also acclaimed as the Region V National Teaching Artist Grant Nominee for Performance. Paul J. Hustoles, in addition to directing The Odyssey, continues his service to Region V by being on the Regional Advisory Board and served as the Festival Registrar for his twelfth time.

Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Nominations

The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships provide recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards sixteen regional and two national scholarships annually. Sixteen of the awards consist of a $500 scholarship for each regional representative.

Theatre Departments enter productions with the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, which then sends regional responders to see the show and share their ideas with designers, cast and crew following a performance. From each entered production, two actors are nominated to participate in the Irene Ryan competition at the regional festival. Traditionally, Minnesota State Mankato has the most entries for Region V.

Check out our nomination history going back to the 1994 Festival.