William Woods University theatre students will showcase their talents at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival regional competition Jan. 17-23 in Overland Park, Kan.
The night before the regional competition, they will give a free performance at 8 p.m. in Dulany Auditorium on the WWU campus.
“These students didn’t just choose to go to the festival,” Joe Potter, assistant professor of theatre, said. “They were nominated back in late September by a jury of regional faculty who visited our campus. They saw our production and were impressed with the level of the student work.”
He added, “Since this process is highly selective and only a few schools are nominated to go from our region, we were extremely excited to get the news of this honor. If they do well in Kansas City, their next stop is the Kennedy Center.”
During the regional festival, members of the William Woods theatre organization known as Jesters will perform a 10-minute scene from Daniel MacIvor’s “Never Swim Alone,” which was presented at WWU in the fall of 2009.
“Never Swim Alone” is a swift, funny satire about two alpha-males and their ruthless competition for the title of top dog. The play is structured as a surreal egotistic boxing match: Frank and Bill, two guys in dark suits and bad ties, square off in a 13-round battle royale of vicious undermining and one-upmanship.
WWU student performers include Taryn Watts of Nixa, Mo., as Referee; Bryan Schmiderer of Pacific, Mo., as A. Francis DeLorenzo; Cody Olendorff of Pacific, Mo., as William (Bill) Wade. The play is directed by WWU student Dustin Z. West, of Kansas City, Mo.
Watts, Schmiderer and Olendorff were also selected to participate in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions. These auditions allow actors to display their talents through duet scenes and monologues. Throughout the festival, the actors will present their scenes in a series of rounds, in the hope of advancing to the national competition at the John. F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in April.
“This is quite an honor for us and a wonderful opportunity for the students. It speaks very well of WWU students,” Potter said.
Additionally, West will exhibit his directing skills by assistant directing a scene with Tony V. Reinfeld of North Dakota State University in the Faculty Directing Showcase.
Other students attending the regional festival are Drew Arnett of Columbia, Mo.; Jason Cavallone of Chicago, Ill., and Rachel Petricka of Las Vegas, Nev.
“Never Swim Alone” and the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship nominees will be featured in a night of scenes presented by the WWU Jesters. The performance will be at 8 p.m. Jan. 16 in Dulany Auditorium. This show is not recommended for children due to the dramatic content, and children under the age of 6 will not be admitted.
Performing in “Never Swim Alone” are (left to right) Bryan Schmiderer of Pacific, Mo.; Taryn Watts of Nixa, Mo., and Cody Olendorff of Pacific, Mo. The play is directed by WWU student Dustin Z. West, of Kansas City, Mo.