Welcome to the Senior Spotlight, Kelci Eaton! You may have seen Eaton working with her best friend Dianne Dye in the costume shop, or peeking out from the stage manager's booth in the studio theatre. A budding speech-language pathologist and advocate for all theatre inclusion, Eaton has been involved with the local Quad Cities chapter of The Penguin Project for two years. Why did Eaton choose Ambrose and what has her experience been like? It's time to interview her and find out!
Hometown: Rockford, IL
Majors: Theatre and Pre-Speech-Language Pathology with a minor in Psychology
How would you describe yourself?
I guess I would say I am a person who likes to do a little bit of everything. I NEED to be busy otherwise I get bored. I like to try new things, but at the same time I'm a huge chicken. I am very family-oriented, and my close friends make their way into my family as well (whether they like it or not). I am outgoing when I get comfortable, but can be pretty shy when I first get to know someone. I'm weird, but I like to think I embrace it.
Senior Kelci Eaton
Ambrose is the place where I truly found myself as a person. Every single person I met has made some sort of impact on me and I cannot thank everyone enough for making the Ambrose Theatre Department feel like a family. I've met my best friends here. The faculty that Ambrose is so fortunate to employ in our Theatre Department have taught me so many life lessons and seen me through my best and worst times. I truly don't know where I would be without them. Thank you for never giving up on me!
What has been your favorite acting role or position at St. Ambrose and why?
My favorite acting role at St. Ambrose was being in the ensemble cast of Working my sophomore year. The process was amazing, and I learned so much. My favorite position at St. Ambrose was when I got to stage manage The Realistic Joneses. It was my first time stage managing and I really enjoyed it quite a bit.
Tell us about The Penguin Project, and your participation in that amazing program:
Ahhh! This program makes my heart happy. I am a "mentor" to my "artist" who has special needs. I get to follow her throughout the entire process of the show. I memorize everything she has to. I help her with her mobility issues and feed her lines when necessary and will perform behind her when the production goes up. The Penguin Project is simply a chance to let these amazing kids shine without being put into an ensemble (unless that's where they feel most comfortable). They can get the leads and they learn EVERYTHING just like we would do. It really is amazing to watch.
This is my second year working with the same "artist," and seeing how much she has improved and found herself makes me want to cry. I see her frequently, and I really feel like a part of her family. This isn't necessarily typical, but I'm glad it happened. This year's production is Beauty and the Beast and my artist is playing Mrs. Potts. It will open Feb. 23 and run for two weekends at the Brunner Theatre at Augustana College. (Get tickets now if you are interested. They sell FAST. We had to add a second weekend of shows just to accommodate the need!)
What are your overall plans for your future?
I have my graduate school interview at St. Ambrose Feb. 17. If I am accepted into the program, I will pursue my master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology. I hope to work with children on the autism spectrum primarily. But, my HUGE plan for the future is to open up a theatre where people with specials needs can both perform and work to gain independence and be social with their peers! I would love to be able to combine theatre with speech pathology!
What are some of your favorite memories from your time at St. Ambrose?
Geez, there are so many. One that sticks out in my head is when Allie Stecklein was practically moved to tears when the cast of Working sang "If I Could've Been." I'd never seen her so excited, and that ensemble was truly amazing to work with. My favorite memory though was pulling up the semi-finalist list at KCACTF this year and seeing my best friend, Megan Clarke's name. It was truly an honor to have been beside her as her partner.
Is there any advice you would like to share?
GO OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. I came to Ambrose never having been backstage. I had always been on stage performing, but Ambrose gives you so many opportunities to explore every aspect of theatre! You learn to appreciate the craft even more when you have been able to be a part of all the different parts of the theatrical process. I found passions that I would have never known existed. Take on every challenge that you face with determination and an open mind and you'll be surprised how far you will go.
Ambrose gives you so many opportunities to explore every aspect of theatre! Take on every challenge that you face with determination and an open mind, and you'll be surprised how far you will go.
Senior Kelci Eaton