Rosemary Frank
MU Theatre Region 5 crew

MU Theatre faculty, staff, and students at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 5 competition.

MU Department of Theatre students excelled at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) regional and national competitions this year.

More than 30 theatre students, faculty, and staff participated in the Region 5 KCACTF in Des Moines, Iowa. Several students advanced to nationals at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Attendees participated in hands-on workshops with theater professionals, watching theatrical productions, and connecting with peers. 

“Congratulations to all our honorees who are pursuing their passion for theatre and excelling in their craft,” said Mimi Hedges, department chair. “We are proud of their accomplishments.”

Here are a few of the standouts from this year’s competition:

Thoughts of a Colored Man

Cast and crew from MU's production of "Thoughts of a Colored Man."

From among the hundreds of productions in the seven-state region, Mizzou’s production of “Thoughts of a Colored Man” by Keenan Scott II was one of the few selected to perform at the regional festival. Directed by Dr. Les Gray with assistant direction by Brandon Riley, the production won several regional awards including Achievement in Ensemble Performance, Achievement in Direction, and Assistant Direction and Achievement in Cohesiveness in Design Coordination and Stage Management. At the national level, the production was awarded Outstanding Achievement in the Facilitation of a Brave Rehearsal Space, Special Achievement in Production of a Play, and the Citizen Artist Award.

"Something Rotten"

Luca Freccia (left) and Dani Major (right) in MU's production of "Something Rotten."

Luca Freccia earned an Irene Ryan nomination for his role in the fall musical “Something Rotten.” Freccia and acting partner Dani Major performed a scene from “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde at the regional competition where Freccia won the Region 5 Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. The acting partners were invited to compete in nationals as representatives of Region 5 where they placed second in the Irene Ryan National Acting Scholarship. Freccia also won the National Partners of the American Theatre Kathryn Robinson Classical Acting Award for his monologues from “Harvey” by Mary Chase and “The Flick” by Annie Blake.

Delaney Eischen

Delaney Eischen in MU's production of "Something Rotten."

Delaney Eischen received the ASPIRE Award for Arts Administration for her creative proposal at the regional competition. In her proposal, Eischen shared her idea for a community organization/theater program that would leverage theatre education to empower vulnerable youth in under-resourced communities. 

As a recipient of the ASPIRE Arts Leadership Fellowship, Eischen engaged with arts leaders, toured theater spaces, discussed the industry’s future, and participated in professional development workshops in Washington, D.C.

Abby Uphoff was the second-place regional winner of the John Cauble Short Play Award for her play “American Girl(s).” Mid-Missouri audiences can see Uphoff’s play about what it means to be an American girl in today’s world when her play is featured in the MU Department of Theatre’s fall lineup. Following that, the full production will be presented at the Region 5 Festival in January 2025.

Zach Alley, Mizzou Theatre Department Technical Director, earned the Golden Hand truck Award for the most safe and professional load in of a production at the festival.

Haley Frazer was invited to share her scenic design, costume design, and forearm armor at the Design Expo.

Elise Hawley earned the Safety Award in the Stage Crew Olympics.

Aaliyah Jones and acting partner Delaney Eischen were named semi-finalists in the Region 5 Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition.

Gabriel Levi and Kaylah Janssen were finalists in the Region 5 Musical Theatre Intensive competition.

Gabriel Levi and acting partner Reggie Coleman moved forward to the semi-finals in the Region 5 Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition.

Kasey Lynch was a finalist in the Directing Scenes Competition and received a commendation for Directing for her work on “The Wolves.”

Dani Major received an Honorable Mention in the Musical Theatre Intensive competition by performing “I’m Breaking Down” from the musical “Falsettos.”

Symonne Sparks presented a workshop entitled “What Do You Want and How Can KCACTF Get You There?” Sparks was the winner of the 2023 National Musical Theatre Intensive fellow. 

Sara Wiley received recognition for Achievement in Dramaturgy for her project and essay on the spring MU Theatre production, “Radium Girls.” In addition to this, her play “Spring Cleaning” was a Gary Garrison Ten-Minute Play Region 5 finalist. 

Aeryn Yonke was invited to the Design Expo for her costume craft artisan double hennin, a headdress worn in the late Middle Ages by European women.