ARCC students named semi-finalists in regional theater competition

Three Anoka-Ramsey Community College thespians have received honors in a regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, while another was named a champion in poster design.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College students recently took part in a regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Lincoln, Neb. They are: (row one) Ted Yang, Ashley Milewski and Jasper Thomas. Row two: Mandi Trandem, Emily Picardi, Kait Fritz and Renee Chizek. Row three: Autumn Sisson, Jarome Smith, Nick Mrozek and Paul Willis. Top row: Blayn Lemke (theater teacher), Jarrod Schreifels and Chris Dugan. Photo submitted

Anoka-Ramsey Community College students recently took part in a regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Lincoln, Neb. They are: (row one) Ted Yang, Ashley Milewski and Jasper Thomas. Row two: Mandi Trandem, Emily Picardi, Kait Fritz and Renee Chizek. Row three: Autumn Sisson, Jarome Smith, Nick Mrozek and Paul Willis. Top row: Blayn Lemke (theater teacher), Jarrod Schreifels and Chris Dugan. Photo submitted

Mandi Trandem, Autumn Sisson and Jarome Smith were named regional semi-finalists at the theater competition held Jan. 20-26 in Lincoln, Neb.

Chris Dugan of Coon Rapids was named Region Five Champion in theatrical poster design for ARCC’s production of “Major Barbara.” Dugan earned his award in the design category among 16 entries.

The week-long event, replete with productions and competitions, celebrates vital college theater programs in the country.

“KCACTF is one of the most cost effective ways for a student thinking of a career in theater to test the waters professionally,” said Blayn Lemke, theater teacher at ARCC.

“In one week, they get a clear idea of the talent in their range. They also get to see the degree of skill needed to excel.”

One-on-one feedback sessions are also invaluable to students, Lemke said.

Although, no ARCC students advanced to national competition and a chance to act on stage or work behind the scenes at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., ARCC’s drama and design students made a strong showing at the regional competition.

Poster-design champ

Dugan, 23, was honored to take home a champion designation for his poster design of ARCC’s 2012 spring production, George Bernard Shaw’s “Major Barbara.” The poster was the first of three posters he has created for the theater department.

“I’m pretty pumped about it,” he said. “It’s good when you receive accolades when it’s something you plan to go into.”

Dugan, the design editor for ARCC’s school newspaper, The Rampage, is on track for a career in graphic design.

The Lincoln festival gave him the opportunity to have has portfolio reviewed by professionals and the chance to become immersed in the theater world.

“Being there helped me more meet the needs of the discipline,” he said.

He also enjoyed seeing people interact with his work, rather than working in a vacuum, he said.

Dugan has since been selected to design two more posters for the college’s theater department productions: for “The House of Blue Leaves” last fall and for the upcoming “Urinetown.”

Large festival

Eighty-four colleges with a total of more than 1,500 students participated in what has become the largest festival in the country, according to Lemke.

Students at the festival have the opportunity to show off their skills in five areas: acting, design, directing, play writing and technical application.

This year, ARCC students participated in the acting and design, technical application and play writing categories at the regional event.

ARCC students made a strong showing in the Irene Ryan Competition in the discipline of acting.

A total of 325 contestants competed from 84 colleges. Four ARCC students were nominated to take part in the competition.

A panel of judges winnowed the more than 300 contestants to 64 regional semi-finalists, including the ARCC students – Trandem, Sisson and Smith.

‘Subjective’ competition

This is the second time that Smith has attended the festival and his first time competing in the acting category.

Smith, 23, of Blaine, performed in two scenes, one in a duet called “The Hate Song,” which turned into a comical piece about hating hate.

A second scene was from a tragicomedy by Walter Wykes, “The Spotted Man,” about a person who seeks help from a doctor because he believes his body is covered with spots.

One of the biggest things Smith learned at regionals was that “competition is so subjective,” he said. He learned more about auditioning – that people need to prepare material that relates specifically to them, he said.

“I learned that watching is almost as good as performing,” said Smith, who plans to be a career actor. “It can teach you so much about performance. The more theater you see, the better you become at acting.”

The following ARCC thespians also represented the college at the competition. They were Emily Picardi, Jarrod Schreifels, Jasper Thomas, Renee Chizek, Paul Willis, Nick Mrozek, Ashley Milewski, Kait Fritz and Ted Yang.

Ultimately, the festival offers select students a chance to represent the region at national finals at the Kennedy Center in the spring.

“Having the opportunity to showcase one’s work on a national stage is a huge benefit to any young theater artist today,” Lemke said.

Many of the ARCC students who participated in the regional festival will perform in the college’s musical production “Urinetown,” which opens this weekend. For tickets or more information visit http://webs.anokaramsey.edu/theatre.

Elyse Kaner is at elyse.kaner@ecm-inc.com

up arrow