Wednesday, January 27, 2016

It's all Greek to me!

The Andreas Theatre is buzzing with the sights and sounds of Ancient Greek Theatre as Sophocles' Antigone is about to open. The idea of earth, fire and the natural elements is very important to Director, Matthew Caron and those themes really manifested themselves in the design. So much so, that a big sandbox (for lack of a better term) sits in the center of the stage, becoming a place of ritual.

Sophie Jones (Antigone)

Sophie Jones

Sophie Jones and Doni Marinos (Creon)

The chorus plays a really dynamic role in the show. "They have an interesting arc where they start civilized and eventually descend into a primal nature," says Caron. He also had a man from Bethany Lutheran Seminary record some of the original translated script into Ancient Greek. Tiresias, played by Jake Sullivan uses some of that language in the play. Caron describes it as a mishmash of Ancient Greek, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.

Left to Right: Daniel Lane, Gabe Sell, Matthew Stairs, Ian Lah and Maria Camila Perez

Jaclyn Britz and other members of the chorus

The show times are January 28th-30th and February 3rd-6th at 7:30 PM. January 31st and February 6th-7th at 2:00 PM at the Andreas Theatre. You won't want to miss it!

Sophie Jones and Doni Marios
Sophie Jones and Kristin Ambrose (Ismene)

Sophie Jones and Jake Jessup

'We're actors. We're the opposite of people.'

It was an eventful week for theatre students at MSU as they headed to Minneapolis to represent one of 86 colleges and universities in the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. As expected, the students walked away with many prestigious awards.

We had four students and their partners advance to the semi-final round in the Irene Ryan Scholarship competition: Adam Yankowy and his partner, Amanda Mai; Erin Horst and her partner, Michaela Shapiro; Jake Sullivan and his partner, Maureen O'Malley; and Maria Camila Perez and her partner, Andrew Anderson.

Maria Camila Perez (Senior BFA) and Andrew Anderson (Junior BFA)

Erin Horst (2nd Year MFA Musical Theatre) and Michaela Shapiro (Junior BFA)

Adam Yankowy (3rd Year MFA Musical Theatre) and his partner Amanda Mai (Junior BFA) get ready to audition in the semi-final round with their accompanist Michael Stamp (Senior BA).

MSU also had eight students advance to the final showcase round in the Open Jar Institute Musical Theatre Intensive. Those students were Emily Scinto (Junior BFA), Luke Steinborn (Junior BFA), Claire Clauson (Junior BFA), Ian Lah (Senior BFA), Carolyn Strauss (Senior BFA), Maria Camila Perez, Amanda Mai and Jake Sullivan. Jake and Amanda snagged the First Runner Up Award with their song "Sue Me" from Guys and Dolls.

Jake Sullivan (Senior BFA) and Amanda Mai (Junior BFA)

Among the other award winners were Michael Sheeks (3rd year MFA Directing) for his work as a Finalist in the Society of Directors and Choreographers (SDC) competition and Isaac Sawle (2nd Year MFA Technical Direction) taking the 2nd Place Regional Technical Project award for Haunting of Hill House. Adam Yankowy took away Best Musical Theatre Actor in the semi-final round for the 2nd year in a row. Costumes from Life is a Dream, designed by David McCarl (faculty), were invited to the juried Annual Costume Parade.

Matthew Stairs (Senior BFA), Emily Scinto, Jake Sullivan, Iah Lah and Sophie Jones (Senior BFA)

We also took home some Certificates of Commendation for past productions. Kate Kanne (3rd year MFA Scene Design) for Scene Design for The Miracle Worker. Adam Yankowy for Musical Direction for A Christmas Story. Jayme Caye Beerling (Junior BFA Design/Technology) for Stage Management for Titanic. The Cast of Titanic for Ensemble Acting. Paul J. Hustoles (faculty) for Directing for Life is a Dream. Overall, it was a very successful week for MSU theatre students!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A very important week begins: KCACTF is upon us

As the first week of classes comes to a close, some students in the Theatre and Dance Department at MSU are getting ready for a busy week in Minneapolis. The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theatre program designed for students to showcase their work and receive feedback from KCACTF responders. Over 18,000 students from colleges and universities compete nationwide every year.

Throughout the week-long festival, students participate in a variety of workshops, professional auditions, musical theatre intensives and of course, the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships. Two students are nominated for this award per show every calendar year. They are asked to pick a partner and put together a six-minute acting package. Out of the hundreds that compete, sixteen finalists are chosen from each region to go to the Kennedy Center in DC.

Friday night the students held their annual Irene Ryan Showcase where they performed their packages for faculty, staff and other students in the program.

Erin Horst and her partner Michaela Shapiro singing a selection from West Side Story.

Sophie Jones and her partner Daniel Lane performing a selection from Boeing-Boeing.
Last year four out of the sixteen acting duos in the Final Round were from MSU, and six students participating in the Musical Theatre Intensive were chosen to sing at the Kennedy Center in DC.

Students in the Final Round at the 2015 KCACTF Competition.
Front Row (L to R): Cassandra Johnson, Amanda Mai, Michael Stamp, Leigh Jacobson, Emily Scinto
Back Row (L to R): James Ehlenz, Steven Labine, Adam Yankowy, Erin Horst 

Students singing "Gun Song" from Assassins at the Kennedy Center in April, 2015.
(L to R): Adam Yankowy, Matthew Stairs, Erin Horst, James Ehlenz