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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

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News from the Department

MSU Theatre looking for children actors for “Our Town"

The Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Theatre & Dance is looking for children to fill some roles in upcoming Mainstage production of "Our Town,” playing Nov. 6-16 in the Ted Paul Theatre. Children for roles in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” and “To Kill A Mockingbird” have already been cast.

Children are needed to play Joe Crowell, Si Crowell, Wally Webb and Rebecca Gibbs (see character descriptions below). Please contact director Matthew Caron at 507-351-1611 or via e-mail at to set up a time to audition. There is no need to prepare anything, as auditions will be cold readings of a short section of the script. We are looking to have all roles filled by Thursday, Oct. 2.

Characters to be cast are:

REBECCA GIBBS (around age 11): George’s younger sister. She is in two scenes in the play; both in Act 1 (about 13 lines in total). She is vivacious and thoughtful.

WALLY WEBB (around age 9): Emily’s younger brother. He is in both Act 1 (with 2 lines) and Act 3 (no lines; but is on stage the entire act). He is a lively boy.

JOE CROWELL, JR (around age 11): The town paperboy. He is in one scene in Act 1 (with 9 lines). A polite and hardworking boy.

SI CROWELL (around age 11): Joe’s younger brother who takes over the paper route 3 years after his brother. He is in one scene in Act 2 (with 4 lines). Hardworking and polite like his brother. Loves baseball.

This audition information is also posted on the Department’s Facebook page,


Minnesota State Mankato, Callie Syverson, tops at KCACTF Region V

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Department of Theatre and Dance participated along with 1,525 registrants (a new record), representing 81 colleges and universities, in the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival gathering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln during festival week, January 19-25, 2014. 

Minnesota State Mankato advanced more students to the Semifinal and Final rounds of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition than any other school in the Region (the largest region in the country).  Last year’s Finalist, Callie Syverson (senior BFA Musical Theatre from Windom), won the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition and will advance to the national finals at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC along with partner Jordan Oxborough (junior BFA Musical Theatre from Eagan).  This is the 3rd time Minnesota State Mankato has won this prize since 2008.  Syverson also captured the Best Musical Theatre Actor in the Semifinal Round award.

Making the top 16 out of a field of over 400 Ryan nominees, Ryan Finalists included Reginald D. Haney (3rd year MFA Actor from Richfield), partnered by James Ehlenz (junior Musical Theatre BFA from Columbia Heights), and Jake McInerney (senior BFA Musical Theatre from Sioux Falls, SD) partnered by Jake Sullivan (sophomore BFA Musical Theatre from Andover).  Adam Yankowy (1st year MFA Musical Theatre from Louisville, KY) made it to the Semifinal round with partner Bridgette Karl (senior BFA Musical Theatre from St. Louis Park).

As always, Minnesota State Mankato was well represented with a variety of “behind the scenes” awards.  Joel Schiebout (3rd year MFA Technical Direction from Sioux Center, IA) took the 1st Place Regional Technical Project award for his work on Les Misérables and he captured a Special Commendation: a one-week residency at the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas, given to an outstanding technician at the festival.  Alisa Bowman (senior BFA Theatre Design/Technology from Wichita, KS) took the 1st Place Regional Allied Craft award for her work on Peter and the Starcatcher.  Noah Files (3rd year MFA Scene Design from Minot, ND) took the 2nd Place Regional Scene Design award for his work onKiss of the Spider Woman.  Alexandra Cross (Senior BA Theatre Generalist from Round Lake) took the Honorable Mention Regional Award in Dramaturgy for her work on Kiss of the Spider Woman.  Rusty Ruth (3rd Year MFA Director from Sioux Falls, SD) was a Finalist in the Society of Stage Directors competition.

Costumes from Les Misérables, designed by David McCarl (faculty), were invited to the juried Annual Costume Parade.  A scene from Spring Awakening, directed by Paul J. Hustoles (faculty), was presented in the juried Showcase of Scenes.

KCACTF Certificates of Commendation for productions at Minnesota State Mankato were awarded to: Mary Jane Olson (BFA Design/Technology graduate from Andover) for Set Design for And Then There Were None; Angela Sahli (MFA Costume Design graduate from Aberdeen, SD) for Costume Design for And Then There Were None; The Cast for Ensemble Acting for Spring Awakening; Alexis Heruth for Choreography for Spring Awakening; Sam Juhnke (BFA Design/Technology graduate from Edina) for Lighting Design for Legally Blonde; The Shift Crew for Amazing Work on Legally Blonde; Steven Smith (faculty) for Lighting Design for Les Misérables; and Anna Alex (2nd year MFA Sound Design from Cincinnati, OH) for Sound Design for Crumbs from the Table of Joy.

During the past year, faculty members John Paul and Hustoles have served as Region V Respondents.  Paul presented some of design workshops and Hustoles presented two theatre management workshops at the festival.  Hustoles continues his service to Region V by being on the Regional Advisory Board and served as the Festival Registrar for this, his fifteenth time.


The Once story happens twice

After completing her time in the Broadway production on May 5, Claire shared with friends this news on May 12:

"I'm beyond thrilled to report that I will be rebuilding my role as Reza in the touring company of Once! We launch in Providence in October, followed by a three-week run in Chicago, after which we'll visit gorgeous places in Minneapolis, Toronto, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and beyond. I hope to be seeing many of you in my travels!"

Claire Wellin hits Broadway

Good bye and thank you, Lee Snilsberg

Hustoles and Snilsberg
Department Chair Paul J. Hustoles accepts from Lee Snilsberg another $50,000 to fund the
Lee & Loretta Snilsberg Theatre Scholarships. Each year, two students in the department
receive scholarships in the amount of $1,000-$1,500 from the endowment.

The Department of Theatre & Dance was saddened by the news on Oct. 31, 2012, of the passing of long-time generous donor Lee Snilsberg, 94. His wife Loretta passed away a few years ago.

The Snilsbergs were some of the longest donors to a scholarship in their name. Each year, from one to three Theatre & Dance students benefit from their generosity with a scholarship. Below is the full list. Thank you, Lee and Loretta!

Recipients of the Lee & Loretta Theatre Endowment Scholarships:

2013—Rachel Lantow & Alisa Bowman
2012—Jason Garton & Rachel Lantow 
2011—Rudolph Searles III & Katherine Phillips
2010—Meredith D. Larson & Craig Daniel Stastny
2009—Amanda Rozmiarek & Claire Wellin
2008—Deborah Lindell & Claire Lloyd 
2007—Mick Coughlan & Joey Ford 
2006—Mick Coughlan & Phillip C. Warren 
2005—Angelyn Faust & Philip C. Warren 
2004—Trick Danneker & Perry Thrun 
2003—Kathleen Driscoll & Mary Grambsch & Jason M. Harber 
2002—Reneé Ann Roy & Lisa Rae Windloss 
2001—Brian E. Flanagan & Jennifer Heckendorn & Travis C. Richardson 
2000—Brain E. Flanagan & Jamea Brooke Hofeld 
1999—Shannon M. Zeig & Dan Weber 
1998—Allen Weeks & Elisa M. Pluhar& Rachel Mero
1997—Anthony Crep & Erica Schweitzer 
1996—Andréa B. Shaw & Allen Weeks
1995—Camela Kraemer & Chris Schmidt


Amanda Rozmiarek The Price by Amanda Rozmiarek
This scenic design for Arthur Miller's The Price won a Chicago Jeff Award for BFA alum Amanda Rozmiarek, left.

Alum Amanda Rozmiarek wins for scenic design

Amanda Rozmiarek, a 2009 BFA Design Technology graduate from the Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Theatre & Dance, has won a Non-Equity Jeff Award for her scenic design of Arthur Miller’s The Price at Raven Theatre in Chicago.  She received the award Monday, June 4, for the production that ran March 4-April 14.

During her undergraduate career, Amanda designed the set for the Mainstage production of Harvey and the Studio production of Tobacco Road, in addition to designing the set and costumes for the children’s theatre production of Abiyoyo.

In The Price, two long estranged brothers — one a cop of limited means, the other a successful doctor — meet in the attic of a New York City brownstone to sort through their deceased parents' belongings.  Decades of sacrifice, resentment, bitterness and jealousies ignite when the brotherly debate moves beyond the costs and values of the items to the values and successes of their own lives. 

The Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee evolved in response to a search by Chicago actors for a way to honor local theatre talent.  Jeff Awards has been honoring outstanding theatre artists annually since, with an active contingent of 50 members representing a wide variety of backgrounds in theatre.  The Jeff Awards evaluates more than 250 theatrical productions and holds two awards ceremonies annually.

Originally chartered to recognize only Equity productions, the Jeff Awards established the Non-Equity Wing in 1973 to celebrate outstanding achievement in non-union theatre.

ACDFA 2012
Dancers pictured in front of Rivers at the Watergate with the Kennedy Center in the background. Front row: Jaclyn Vlasak,
Bridget Carlson, Alexis Heruth, Brittany Ford, Emily Higgins and Geneva Walter; second row: Shareen Brazil,
Kayla Wettstein, Nicole Einerson, Alexa Lautenbach and Daniel Stark; back row: Sydney Burch, Chris Jones and Joe Crook.


The 13 Minnesota State University, Mankato Dance students who performed in faculty member Dan Stark’s piece, Crash (2010), at the American College Dance Festival Association regional conference in Madison, WI, March 28-April 1 get another chance to perform when they head to Washington, D.C., and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Gala Concerts May 25-27.  Two years ago, the last time selections were made, Stark’s piece Politics Religion Sex was selected.

Twenty-five Minnesota State Mankato students attended the Regional Conference at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  The festival included 500 participants from around the country.  Crash was first selected to the Gala concert for the conference, along with eight other dances.  Then it was selected from those to perform at the Kennedy Center.

Says Stark: “Performing at the Kennedy Center is an artist's dream and represents accomplishment at the highest level.  By [attending] this event, our students will be given an incredible opportunity, will gain knowledge and experiences that will be brought back and used to foster growth of our Minnesota State Mankato dance community, and will create recognition of our Dance program at the national level.”

Dancers in Crash are: Chris Jones, solo; Joseph Crook and Nicole Einerson in duet; and Sydney Burch, Shareen Brazil, Bridget Carlson, Brittany Ford, Alexis Heruth, Emily M.X. Higgins, Alexa Lautenbach, Jaclyn Vlasak, Geneva Walters and Kayla Wittstein.  Faculty designers are: George E. Grubb, sound, Steven Smith, lighting, and Catherine Schmeal-Swope, costumes (based on original designs by Jessica Guthrie).

In addition to Crash, student Sydney Burch’s piece, Introductions (2011) was performed at the adjudicated concert.  It featured performers Burch, Heruth and Lautenbach, with sound by Grubb, lighting by Smith and costumes by Schmeal-Swope.

Also, Sophie Pimsler choreographed a dance that was performed in the Informal Concert: 21 Blues (2011).  Dancers were Pimsler, Heruth, Lautenbach, Alicia Olson and Amy Wilson.

ACDFA's membership currently stands at over 300 institutions.  According to the national website:

“The National College Dance Festival highlights, on the national level, the outstanding quality of choreography and performance that is being created on college and university campuses by bringing together schools from all over the country to perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.  The 30 participating schools have been selected by nationally recognized adjudicators at each of the 11 ACDFA regional conferences.  Selections are based on outstanding artistic excellence and merit.”


Fifteen students form the Minnesota State University, Mankato Department of Theatre & Dance also attended the national United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) conference in Long Beach, CA, March 28-31. 

Among the events and activities, four students participated in the Tech Olympics competition: Mary Jane Olson, Sam Juhnke, Jaeden Wellner and P.J. Crowley.  They took first place in the following competitions:

Costume Quick Change: Olson and Juhnke
Sound System: Wellner and Juhnke
1st Place in Light hang and focus: Juhnke

The “Top Technician” Award for all of the Tech Olympics went to Sam Juhnke
and the “Top Team” standings had Minnesota State Mankato in 3rd place.

All current students who went on the trip also attended an alumni reunion, with current faculty members George Grubb, John Paul and David McCarl, plus faculty emeritus Tom Bliese.

Alumni in attendance were: Claire Wellin, Clayton Rutschow, Kevin Egeland (graduate from the “early ‘80s,” graphic designer for TV's Dexter and several other shows), Spencer Kramber, Todd Karner, Pat Rafferty and Gary Benson.

Also dropping in were the following industry professionals: Erik Walstad (the technical director for Cirque Du Soleil's KA); Stu Cox (Flying Department Manager for ZFX flying effects); and Niles Sayer (owner of Stage Technology).

MSU Theatre had success at Region V KCACTF

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Department of Theatre & Dance participated along with almost 1,400 registrants, representing 80 colleges and universities, in the Region V KCACTF gathering at Iowa State University during festival week, Jan. 15-21, 2012. 

Anthony DePoto (3rd year MFA Acting from Danbury, CT) partnered by Larissa Schmitz (junior BFA Acting from New Prague) advanced to the Final round of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition, keeping Mankato’s streak alive—placing at least one student in the Finals—from the very first Irene Ryan competition.  Anthony also took the Best Classical Actor in the Semifinal Round award and placed as Second Irene Ryan Alternate (or 4th place out of 300 competitors).

Minnesota State Mankato had four other students break into the Semifinal round: Ceara Dowell (junior BA from Bemidji), partnered by Amanda Forman (junior BA from Tiffin, IA); Morgan Mallory (2nd year MFA Musical Theatre from Pocatello, ID), partnered by Carter Allen (sophomore BFA Acting from Cedar Rapids, IA); Lindsay Overgaard (senior BA from Mason City, IA) partnered by Emily Jansen (junior BFA Musical Theatre from St. Peter); and Laura Otremba (senior BFA Musical Theatre from Andover) partnered by Tim Gagne (senior BA from Roseville). 

Thomas Fagerholm (3rd year MFA Technical Direction from South St. Paul) took the 1st Place Regional Technical Project award for the Technical Direction of Rent.  Sam Juhnke (sophomore BFA Theatre Design/Technology from Edina) won the 2nd Place award in Regional Lighting Design for The Shape of Things.

KCACTF Certificates of Commendation for productions at Minnesota State Mankato were awarded to: Sam Juhnke for Production Stage Management for Dracula; Jordan Green (2nd year MFA Lighting Design from Grand Forks, ND) for Lighting Design of Wait Until Dark; Kim Steffen (senior BFA in Musical Theatre from Spencer, IA) for Musical Direction of Altar Boyz; Lauren Looby (junior Dance minor from Maple Grove) for Choreography of Altar Boyz; Steve Smith (faculty) for Lighting Design for Altar Boyz; Naoko Ishizuka (2nd year MFA Scene Design from Urayasu-shi, Japan) for Scene Design for Altar Boyz.

Costumes from The Producers, designed by David McCarl (faculty), were invited to the juried Costume Parade, which was co-hosted by Ceara Dowel by virtue of her work in the Ryan Semifinal round.  Altar Boyz, directed by Paul J. Hustoles (faculty), performed a cutting in the Invited Scene Showcase, featuring Adam Moen (senior BFA Musical Theatre from New Richland), Jason Garton (senior BFA Musical Theatre from Casper, WY), Sam Stoll (sophomore BFA Musical Theatre from Perham), Jake McInerney (sophomore BFA Musical Theatre from Sioux Falls, SD) and Carter Allen.

During the past year, faculty members Paul Finocchiaro, Heather Hamilton and Hustoles have served as Region V Respondents.  Faculty member John Paul responded to many productions, served on the Region V Selection Committee and completed his three-year term as 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 GrubbHustoles continues his service to Region V by being on the Regional Advisory Board and served as the Festival Registrar for this, his thirteenth time.  For the first time, he will serve as a National Irene Ryan Judge for Classical Acting at the Kennedy Center in April.