Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (Region 5) is currently holding their annual festival and Stephens students are performing exceedingly well, according to Musical Theatre Program Chair Jennifer Hemphill.

She and her students are currently at Festival 52 for the region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.  

For 50 years, KCACTF has been a place where hundreds of colleges and universities come together to celebrate, encourage and recognize the artistic work of our future generation of theatre makers. Students have the opportunity to compete in acting, directing and dramaturgy, and attend professional workshops.

This year approximately 90 colleges and universities are competing at the event, which is hosted by South Dakota State University and The University of South Dakota. 

Hemphill reports that returning competitor Sofia Garcia '20 has been selected as a finalist in the directing category this year. She was among six chosen out of 15 scenes. This is a highly competitive category that includes undergraduate and graduate students.  

Stephens students Allison Belsan '22, Natalie Irlmeier '20 and Sophie Sarnacki '22 have made it to the finals in the Musical Theater Intensive competition. They join a small group of finalists selected from about 150 competitors. They will compete on the mainstage Thursday night in front of a large audience and esteemed professional industry judges, says Hemphill. 

Says Sofia Garcia of the event so far: “This experience has reinforced my skillset as a multi-faceted artist.” 

Other students participating include Brooke Grno '20, who reports that “this festival has boosted my confidence. I feel more sure of my capabilities as an actor,” and Shawnee Fierros Casas Richberger '20 who adds, “this is a big step in achieving the visibility that we deserve.”  

Twelve theatre companies have also issued callbacks to Stephens students who are exploring summer theatre opportunities. 

“Our performing arts students are class acts,” says Hemphill. “They possess the poise and professionalism of artists far beyond their years. They have made strong showings across the board and people are taking notice. Our students have represented Stephens College in a remarkable way. I know I speak for the entire faculty when I say I could not be prouder.”

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