MU Theatre

Mizzou Theatre master’s student Symonne Sparks, BA, ’17 was awarded the Kennedy Center Musical Theatre Fellows award at the National Awards Ceremony for the 2023 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) on Friday, April 21, 2023.

“It was more like a showcase than a competition,” says Sparks. “There were some power houses on that stage, and when they called my name, I was so surprised. It was like an out of body experience!”

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students annually from colleges and universities across the United States. In January and February, eight regional festivals showcase the finest productions, offer workshops, and celebrate students' work, followed by the national festival which took place on April 19-22. Students participated in workshops with theatre professionals, saw productions in Washington D.C., and connected with their peers from across the country.

KCACTF culminates in the national awards ceremony where outstanding theater students from the regional festivals are eligible for recognition celebrating outstanding achievement in categories including overall production, direction, choreography, design, performance, and devising.

Winning the National Musical Theatre Award for KCACTF has shifted my mindset about my future and career as a performer. I wondered if I had what it takes for that kind of life, but now I feel so much more confident. I would not have competed without the support and encouragement of my family, friends, and colleagues in the Department of Theatre, especially  Dr. Heather Carver." says Sparks.

Originally from St. Louis, Sparks graduated in 2017 with a bachelor of arts in music from MU and is currently a master’s student in theatre. Sparks says she chose to attend Mizzou because it was only a few hours from her family, but she could create and develop her own identity and start her journey towards her goals.