Eight members of the Community College of Rhode Island’s student-run theater group, the CCRI Players, are competing for a chance to earn scholarships in this week’s 2021 Region 1 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, which will be held remotely this year for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The KCACTF is a national theater program benefitting more than 18,000 students annually from colleges and universities across the country. The goal is to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs while providing opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills. The KCACTF honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design.
Eight regional competitions are held each year with finalists advancing to the National Festival in April. CCRI is part of Region 1, which includes schools from northeast New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. This year’s Region 1 competition runs throughout this week and ends January 31.
Students are selected to compete in the KCACTF based on nominations stemming for their performances during the calendar year, which, for 2020, includes students’ performances during the Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 semesters.
“It’s a really wonderful experience,” said CCRI Theater Director Ted Clement. “It’s not just the scholarships and accolades, but the workshops and the opportunities to work alongside Broadway actors, directors, and prize-winning playwrights are invaluable. The students really have a profound experience.”
Dan Garcia of Warwick and Allison Wong of Barrington, who played the lead roles in the Players’ season-opening adaptation of Fool for Love, along with Jerry Middlemiss of East Providence and Ryk McIntyre of Providence have been nominated for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships. Middlemiss played the role of Cliff Bradshaw while McIntyre starred as Herr Schultz in the Players’ February adaptation of Cabaret.
Recent additions Chris Ricci, Emma Cox (Portsmouth), Lia Pinto (East Providence) – the only self-nominee in this year’s class from CCRI – have also been nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship following their performance in The Shadow Box, which was CCRI’s second remote production of the Fall 2020 semester. Kaisey Caputo will compete in the Design, Technology, and Management Expo for her work as the Sound Designer on Fool for Love.
The Irene Ryan Foundation awards sixteen regional and two national scholarships annually. One nominee and partner from every region will be invited to the national festival and the nominee will receive a $500 scholarship. The national winner will earn $5,000. The KCACTF Region 1 Richard Maltby Jr. Award recognizes outstanding musical theatre performance by a student in higher education theatrical productions. At least one student is nominated per entered musical production, and national winners receive a scholarship to Broadway Theatre Project’s Summer Training Program, commonly referred to as the world’s most prestigious musical theatre arts education program for high school and college students. One student in each design discipline (costume, lighting, scenic, and sound) competing in the DTM Expo will be chosen from each region to participate in the National Festival.
Adjunct Theater Professor Anthony Goes, who directed last year’s production of 1959 Pink Thunderbird, will serve as the lead coach for the Irene Ryan scholarship nominees.
“To have the trust and support from the department to guide these actors means the world to me,” Goes said. “It gives me a unique experience to work one-on-one with them and help them understand the craft from a professional standpoint and how to put together a dynamic package that falls in line with the festival standards.
“For the students, this gives them an opportunity early in their careers to see what kind of competition is out there. This is their first exposure to networking on a bigger scale and an understanding of what it takes to make it in this industry. They get access to workshops and feedback you normally wouldn’t get until graduate training, so it helps to set the standards to which they will work from here on out.”
CCRI is at the forefront of improving the ways community college students are prepared to advance their education and career prospects. Named America’s 2019 2-Year College of the Year by Education Dive, CCRI expects to have the highest three-year graduation rate of any community college in New England by 2021.