Theatre department makes splash in Ames

Stage crew member Carly Hyer works hard to assemble the set before the Jan. 13 performance of "Anatomy of Gray." Photo by Patti Klinge.

By Julius Williams

The Theatre department had a strong showing at its trip to the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival ( in Ames, Iowa this past January.

The KCACTF is a national theatre arts program that includes over 600 institutions from around the country whose mission is to support the work of college and university theatre programs. Student actors, directors and stage-craftsmen have the opportunity to showcase their work and participate in career programs.

Beate Pettigrew, artistic coordinator for theatre department, was extremely pleased with her student’s performance.

“We generally do well,” Pettigrew said. “We compete with four-year schools and graduate programs and we always hold our own. It’s great.”

The college had six students that were nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting award. Students from the college competed with nearly 300 other students from around the region for the award that includes a scholarship and a trip to the National festival in Wash., D.C., in April.

Four students advanced to the semi-final round and one student made it to the final round. Theatre student Hannah See was one of the nominees that made it to the second round. She was one of 64 student actors chosen to advance out of the initial 300 nominees.

Eric Meixelsperger, theatre student, made it to the final round placing 3rd in the country overall and may have the opportunity as “first alternate” to travel to the national festival in Washington.

The department also entered the stage director and choreographer’s competition for the first time. According to the festival’s website, the winning student director from each region will be afforded travel and dining expenses to travel to the national festival.

Two students from the college were nominated and Tony Citrony, theatre student, won the regional SDC award and will be traveling to the Kennedy Center in April.

Citrony was competing against 16 students from two-year, four-year and graduate programs around the region.

“He beat three year MFA directing students,” Pettigrew said.

The week-long festival concluded with the college’s performance of “Anatomy of Grey”. The theatre department’s production was chosen out of over two hundred submissions from 77 different programs to perform at the festival. JCCC was the only 2 year school chosen.

“We performed in front of 1500 people,” said Bailey Burchum, theatre student. “We were the last performance of the whole festival. We received a standing ovation. It was insane.”

“We took our whole cast and production team to do the show. It wasn’t technically an award but it was a big deal to be invited to perform,” See said.

The department will continue its season this semester with three performances and for the first time, the department will have students directing the performances. The first show, the “Festival of One Acts” will comprise of three once act plays directed by student directors and runs Feb. 17 – 19 and 24 – 26.

In March, the department will showcase its annual children’s play. “La Culebra” will open at the Bodker Black Box theatre March 9 before traveling to area elementary schools after the spring break.

The department will conclude its season with the musical “The Spitfire Grill” at the end of April. The performances will run April 26 – 28 and May 4 – 6.

All performances are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit

Contact Julius Williams, Sports Assignment Editor, at

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