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Irene Ryan Nominees Prepare for Success

October 2010

This is the time of year when the Irene Ryan nominees start to read a lot of different scripts to find pieces they can perform at Kennedy Center American College Theatre (KCACTF) Regional Festival which will be Jan. 16-22 in Ames, Iowa. The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition is comprised of nominated performers from different colleges who compete against each other by performing songs, scenes, and monologues. There are scholarships awarded at the regional level, and these winners then have the opportunity to advance to the national level, where they can win more scholarships.

Two to three actors from each SAU mainstage production (minus the children's show) are selected by the production's adjudicator to participate in the competition. The competition consists of three rounds; the first two must be contrasting scenes with a partner that may or may not include singing. During the final round, students present their first two scenes in addition to a monologue or a song. The nominees get the chance to select all the pieces they wish to perform. This year Dr. Corinne Johnson will be the Region V coordinator for all Irene Ryan candidates. Here is a look at the progress our performers are making:

Andrew Benson is a senior nominated for his ensemble role in "Oedipus Rex" where he played Creon and Oedipus. This is his second time being nominated, the first was for his role of Signor Pirelli in "Sweeney Todd." His acting partner will be Jessica Denney. He will be performing a scene from "London Assurance" and a Shakespearean monologue. He is still in the process of looking for a second scene but has narrowed down the options and is in the process of deciding.

Nathan Scheetz graduated last spring with a degree in Theatre. He was nominated for the first time for his performance as Tom in "The Glass Menagerie." This is his first nomination, though he is an experienced partner after having paired up with Ryan Westwood twice and Emily Kurash once. He doesn't have any partner or scenes picked out yet, but he has some scenes in mind.

Abby Van Gerpen graduated last year with degrees in Theatre and English. She was nominated in "Oedipus Rex" for playing Herdsman/Tragic Second Messenger/Ensemble. This is the second nomination for Van Gerpen. First nomination was for "The Three Penny Opera" her freshman year. Her partner will be Grant Legan and they currently have a slew of scripts to choose from, the only thing holding them back from choosing one is that they are trying to find a song to pair up with it. There are too many choices, which is better than having none!

Monique Vos, a senior, was nominated for the first time for her portrayal of Laura Wingfield in "The Glass Menagerie" last February. She is looking at a piece from Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra" and then something else from a contemporary drama.

Val Zawada is a sophomore nominated for the first time for her ensemble role in "Oedipus Rex" last April. She only has a solid idea on her monologue, which is "You Don't Know This Man" from Jason Robert Brown's "Parade." She says finding pieces has been really difficult as she has found a lot of things she loves but can't do because of age range and time limitations. This experience is a good way to discover new shows and playwrights though.

This group of talented students will have two showings in he Galvin Fine Arts Center, and you are invited to attend both of these events! The first showing will be Thursday, December 16 at 6:30 pm and the final showing will be Friday, January 14 at 2 pm.

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