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UT Theatre Prepares for Regional Festival

A group of Performing Arts majors will be travelling to Albany, Georgia this week to compete at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). With four pairs of actors going into the competition, Professor Finocchiaro is hoping to have at least two pairs advance to the semi finals, and at least one pair in the finals.

The team will be leaving for Albany on Tuesday, competing against 300 students in the preliminaries on Wednesday, 64 students in the semi-finals on Thursday, and 32 students in the finals on Friday. Only two pairs out of the 300 students competing will go past the final round. If any of the pairs win the finals, they’ll go on to a competition in Washington, D.C. where they will compete with finalists from all over the country for prestigious scholarships such as The Mark Twain Scholarship for Comic Performance, The Williamstown Theatre Festival Apprenticeship, The Shakespeare Theatre Company Acting Fellowship and The VASTA (Voice and Speech Trainers Association) Award for Vocal Excellence.

Before they left for the competition, the team held a showcase that served not only as a formal rehearsal, but also gave the acting pairs the opportunity to be critiqued by three different directors. The showcase was open to other Performing Arts students so that they could support their friends and also strive to be nominated to attend KCACTF next year.

Each acting pair consists of a student that was nominated for a performance in either the fall semester’s play or musical, and the acting partner of their choice. This year’s pairs include seniors John Millsap and Alexa Perez; senior Emmanuel Carrero and sophomore Julia Rifino; junior Jessica Stone and senior Mitchell Spencer; and juniors Roxxi Jaxx and Mikaela Bracken. Each pair performs a six-minute package with three different performances. The packages are meant to showcase the nominated actor’s ability to perform in a variety of genres, so they include scenes that are dramatic, and scenes that are comedic, as well as duets and solos. The actors are challenged with having to cut scenes and songs to keep the entire package under six minutes while also making sure each of the three pieces transition smoothly.

At the showcase, the packages were rapidly performed, but each stood out in their own way and was unique to each of the actors. Millsap performed a serious and a comedic scene with Perez that kept the audience on their toes before he stepped forward seamlessly into a dramatic monologue from Shakespeare’s “Richard II.” Carrero and Rifino had the audience in hysterics with their performance of Therapy from the musical “Tick, Tick…Boom!” and a quirky scene from the play “Almost Maine,” then Carrero sang a heart-breaking rendition of “Nobody Needs to Know” from “The Last 5 Years.” Stone showcased her ability to sing and act by starting off with a strong performance of “My Lord and Master” from “The King and I,” and then moving into two scenes with Spencer that included both witty dialogue, and a handgun. Finally, Jaxx and Bracken performed extremely well together in both a song and a scene before Jaxx broke off and gave a wonderful vocal performance of “Dead Girl Walking” from the musical adaptation of the movie “Heathers.”

Also attending KCACTF is junior and film major Jessica White, who has served as the stage manager for three shows during her time here at UT. White was nominated to attend the competition for her technical work in “Les Miserables.” Unlike the acting pairs, White won’t be performing at KCACTF. Instead, she’ll bring a portfolio of her work to present for the stage manager portion of the competition.

Besides the competition aspect of the festival, KCACTF also includes performing arts-related workshops and seminars. The festival hosts parties every night for all of the students, and some schools even bring entire plays and musicals that they’ve rehearsed, performances of which are open to all attendees.

Kara Delemeester can be reached at

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