By Alex Smith
Ames247 Staff Writer
All around the nation, theater students work to have their talents noticed. In the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), that’s exactly what happens.
KCACTF is a program where judges go to colleges to see student performances, and they select students to be accepted into the festival, where they have a chance to be awarded for excellence with scholarships.
The students who win at regionals, which the ISU theater department is hosting this year, win a scholarship. Four to six of the best performances at regionals get to go to nationals. According to the KCACTF website, “KCACTF has given more than 400,000 college theater students the opportunity to have their work critiqued, improve their dramatic skills and receive national recognition for excellence.”
At Iowa State, there are eight students who are regional nominees for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, which features outstanding performances nominated throughout the school year. There are 16 $500 awards given to finalists at regionals, and two $3,000 scholarships given at nationals.
Out of 295 actors who were nominated, Mark Klooster, senior in performing arts, Brittny Rebhuhn, senior in performing arts, and Maddie Welterlen, senior in music and performing arts, made it as three of 64 to go on to the semifinals for the Irene Ryan competition. Only 16 of that 64 are selected for the finals.
Throughout the week, the festival will be going on at Iowa State Center, in Fisher Theater and the Scheman Building. ISU Theatre’s “Six Characters,” which was performed last spring, was selected to perform Thursday as one of the top plays in Region V.
If students wish to attend the festival for one day, they are allowed to register on-site on the first floor of the Scheman Building. One day registration is $30, and students would be required to wear a name tag in order to enter a performance or workshop.
Meet the Irene Ryan contestants
Ames247 asked: “How did you feel when you found out you were nominated for the scholarship?”
Matt Meldrem, senior in performing arts
Nominated for: Matt in “Dog Sees God”
“I was really excited. This was the first time I had been nominated, and it is a great opportunity to exercise my acting ability and show people what I can do.”
Brittny Rebhuhn, senior in performing arts
Nominated for: The Mother in “Six Characters”
“I was excited to work with a scene partner again and just go through the process. It was fun collecting the material and working on it.”
*Rebhuhn is an Irene Ryan semi-finalist.
Josh Ster, senior in performing arts
Nominated for: Eilert Loevborg in “Hedda Gabler”
“I was pumped, very excited to get the opportunity to audition. Not many people get this chance so it’s exciting. I want to say break a leg to all the other nominees.”
Mark Klooster, senior in performing arts
Nominated for: Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”
“The night that the respondent was there was a night I was suffering from a sore throat. I was genuinely afraid my voice was going to disappear on me. I myself didn’t think it was my best performance of that role, so I had mixed emotions. On one hand, it was great to be nominated and on the other hand, it wasn’t my best performance.”
*Klooster is an Irene Ryan semi-finalist.
Vicky Stafford, senior in performing arts
Nominated for: Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker”
“I was excited and I was also very honored and humbled, just because ['The Miracle Worker'] was such a great production, and I was so proud of everything everyone put into that production. The idea of winning this award, I think it just spoke for the whole production because I’ve never been part of another play that I’ve been so proud of.”
Anna Bellegante, junior in English
Nominated for: Kate Keller in “The Miracle Worker”
“I was really honored, more than anything, because there was so much talent at this school and just in the theatre program in general. So to be nominated for an award such as this, regardless of the outcome, if I advance or not, I’m just really glad I got to be a part of it. I’m grateful to the cast, my director, Matt Foss, and my scene partner.”
Ethan Peterson, junior in performing arts
Nominated for: Don Adriana de Armado in “Love’s Labor’s Lost”
“It was an incredible honor because ‘Love’s Labor’s Lost’ was the most talented group of people I’ve ever worked with. To be recognized out of that group is the highest thing because I would’ve given it to any single one of them in that cast. The only reason I could’ve possibly been good in that show is because of how much support and how much talent I was working with. It was almost disbelief because it was like ‘Really? You didn’t give it to her?’ or ‘You didn’t give it to him?’ It’s a blast.”
Maddie Welterlen, senior in music and performing arts
“Obviously, first off I was really honored because in everything I work on, I’m surrounded by such commitment, collaboration, and such really talented people. To be somebody that they choose to represent the show and the cast with an acting company I think is a huge honor. Also to represent what we’re about here at Iowa State, especially acting wise, I think is really an honor and also very exciting. The best part of it is basically finding your own scenes, figuring out how to find a scene, finding a play that you like, and finding somebody that you really like to work with and let the rest of it fly.”
*Welterlen is an Irene Ryan finalist.