Theater Students Shine at Denver Festival

(left to right) Elizabeth Merski '19, Brandon English '16, and Kimiya Shokri '19

Two Saint Mary’s theater students, Angelo Chudwudebe and partner Justin Howard (both class of 2019), rocketed to the final round of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition during the February Region VII Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival in Denver. This year, more than 250 Irene Ryan competitors were nominated for their outstanding acting performances in a spring or fall ’16 theater production at their home school. At the festival, each nominee and a partner competed with a tightly timed program of two contrasting scenes and a monologue. Chukwudebe and Howard’s ranking—as one of the top 16 acting teams out of more than 250 in the eight-state region—places them among the region’s elite. Only a handful of Saint Mary’s students have ever made it to the Ryan regional finals, and Chudwudebe and Howard are the first Saint Mary’s all-freshman team to do so.

Also representing Saint Mary’s at the regional conference were 12 other talented theater students: Miguel Angeles, Jack Clifford, Michael Craigen, Brandon English, Olivia Hass, Hannah Kiehl, Jordan Lampi, Lizzie Merski, Amanda Ramos, Kimiya Shokri, Quinci Waller, and Bryce Woodward. Among the honors earned by Saint Mary’s students this year, junior Jordan Lampi was one of only six invited participants in the region’s inaugural Dramaturgy Intensive. Conducted by nationally recognized dramaturg Heather Helinski, the intensive immersed Jordan in the work of dramaturgy: during the week-long conference, she attended auditions, interviewed the playwright, wrote program notes, and observed rehearsals as part of the region’s 10-minute play showcase.

In addition to the Irene Ryan competition, SMC students took advantage of the conference’s Next Steps audition program. The Saint Mary’s cohort received callbacks from a number of prestigious training programs and teaching internships, including: Marin Theater Company, Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts, Southern Oregon University, University of Wyoming, Stella Adler Art of Acting Studio, The Artory, and Missoula Children's Theatre. Reflecting on her experience in Denver, Jordan Lampi said, “Going to the festival solidified for me that working in theater would be a wonderful, challenging and rewarding career, because I would get to work with wonderful people and create magic on stage.”