Departmental News

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News from the Department

Irene Ryan competitors 2015

Minnesota State Mankato sends several to national KCACTF Festival

Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Department of Theatre and Dance participated along with 1,464 registrants, representing 82 colleges and universities, in the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival gathering at Normandale Community College and the Guthrie Theater during festival week, January 18-24, 2015. 

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).  Making the top 16 out of a field of over 400 Ryan nominees, Ryan Finalists included Adam Yankowy (2nd year MFA Musical Theatre from Louisville, KY) partnered by Erin Horst (1st year MFA Musical Theatre from Vinton, IA).  Adam went on to win Best Musical Theatre Actor in both the Finals and Semifinals and Erin won Best Partner in the Final Round.  Adam was also a Semifinalist last year.  Also in the finals were James Ehlenz (senior Musical Theatre BFA from Columbia Heights) partnered by Steven Labine (junior Musical Theatre BFA from Detroit Lakes) and Leigh Jacobson (senior Musical Theatre BFA from Champlin) partnered by Emily Scinto (sophomore Musical Theatre BFA from Lakeville).  Emily won Best Partner in the Semifinal Round as the partner of Semifinalist Matthew Stairs (junior Musical Theatre BFA from Casper, WY).  Also advancing to the Semifinals was Kendra Verhage (senior Acting BFA from Lawrence, KS) partnered by Maureen O’Malley (sophomore Musical Theatre BFA from Hopkins).  Finally, Cassandra Johnson (senior Musical Theatre BFA from Benson) partnered by Amanda Mai (sophomore BA Theatre Generalist from Beaver Dam, WI) broke to the Finals and then took 3rd place overall in the Irene Ryan Competition!  All students in the final round, performed on the Guthrie Theater’s famous Wurtele Thrust Stage.

The really amazing news comes with the special Musical Theatre recognition for six Minnesota State Mankato students who performed in the Musical Theatre Intensive on the Guthrie’s McGuire Stage.  Two “songs” were selected to be invited to perform at the Kennedy Center itself as part of the National Festival—and the singers will be treated like Irene Ryan winners for their trip to Washington DC.  The songs included “The Gun Song” from Assassins, featuring Adam Yankowy, Erin Horst, James Ehlenz and Matthew Stairs; and “People Like Us” from The Wild Party, featuring Cassandra Johnson and Jordan Oxborough (senior BFA Musical Theatre from Eagan).  All six students are heading to the national festival!

As always, Minnesota State Mankato was well represented with a variety of “behind the scenes” awards.  Anna Alex (3rd year MFA Sound Design from Cincinnati, OH) captured the national level 1st Place in Sound Design for Our Town and will also be heading to the Kennedy Center in April.  Lauren Nelson (junior BFA Design/Technology from St. Cloud) took the national 2nd place Costume Design award for Gabriel.  Regional awards were numerous.  Matthew Caron (3rd year MFA Directing from Mankato) was a Finalist in the Society of Directors and Choreographers (SDC) competition and also took 1st Place in Regional Poster Design and Publicity, and 2nd Place in Regional Scenic Design for Boeing BoeingMichael Sheeks (3rd year MFA Directing from Robbinsdale) was a Semifinalist in the SDC competition and won the 1st Place Regional Dramaturgy award.  Isaac Sawle (1st year MFA Technical Direction from Minneapolis) took the
1st Place Regional Technical Project award for Gabriel.  Timothy Williams (senior BA Theatre Generalist from Mounds View) took the 2nd Place Regional Allied Craft award for Hairspray.  Nick Voight (senior BA Theatre Generalist from Mankato) earned an Honorable Mention in the Stage Management competition.  Colton Moyer (senior BFA Acting from St. Paul) earned an Honorable Mention in Dramaturgy.  Costumes from As You Like It, designed by David McCarl (faculty), were invited to the juried Annual Costume Parade. 

KCACTF Certificates of Commendation for past productions at Minnesota State Mankato were awarded to (in chorological order): Alisa Bowman (BFA Design/ Technology 2014) for Costume Design for Kiss of the Spider Woman.  Noah J. Files (MFA Scene Design 2014) for Scene Design for Kiss of the Spider WomanLuke Walchuk (2nd year MFA Sound Design from Waukegan, IL) for Sound Design for As You Like It.  John Paul (Faculty) for Scene Design for As You Like It.  Samantha Goerss (BFA Design/Technology 2014) for Stage Management for The Drowsy Chaperone.  Nick Voight for Stage Management for Beauty and the BeastHeather Grandprey (2nd year MFA Costume Design from Circle Pines) for Costume Design for Our Town.  Matthew Caron for Directing for Our Town.

During the past year, faculty members John Paul, Heather Hamilton and Paul J. Hustoles have served as Region V Respondents.  Paul presented some design workshops and Hustoles presented a 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.