RIC Takes Top Honors at Regional Theater Festival - Again!

Rhode Island College earned top honors at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Hyannis, Mass., during which hundreds of students from throughout New England and New York competed for a host of awards.

Sarah Pothier, a junior from East Providence, received the “Richard Maltby Jr. Award for Excellence in Musical Theater,” which includes a full scholarship to the Broadway Theater Project in Tampa, Fla. Pothier was presented her award personally by Maltby, a Tony Award-winning lyricist and director whose works include “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Miss Saigon,” “Baby” and “Big.” 

Stephanie Harrop, a RIC senior from Norton, Mass., received the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Award for Excellence in Design Technology. As a result, she will be given the opportunity to work for and train with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas.

Pothier and Harrop were among seven Rhode Island College students and professors to earn honors during the six-day festival, one of eight regional festivals sponsored by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

More than 40 RIC students were among hundreds of students from throughout New England and New York who were invited to the festival to compete for individual and group honors in theater, music and dance in KCACTF Region 1.

Rhode Island College also was one of only five colleges and universities invited to present an entire production during the festival, to be judged as part of a national competition for the best collegiate performances in the country.  RIC performed “A-Mirror-Ca,” which already has received regional acclaim for its poignant portrayal of the tribulations faced by today’s college students.

The national theater winners won’t be announced until later this spring. However, Rhode Island College’s ability to recreate its production of “A-Mirror-Ca” during the festival earned the technical crew and cast  – under the direction of RIC professor Alan Pickart – the coveted Kennedy Center Golden Hammer Award for Outstanding Skill and Knowledge of Backstage Practices.

This is the third straight year that Rhode Island College has taken home some of the top awards at the festival, which draws intense competition from collegiate theater companies throughout New England and New York, said Bill Wilson, director of musical theater for Rhode Island College and vice-chair of the KCACTF Region 1 musical theater initiative.

““We have established ourselves as a powerhouse in musical theater and dance in Region 1,” Wilson said.  “… People were coming up to us and saying, ‘What school are you from?’ We want to go there!’ “

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo said she was pleased so many RIC students and productions were honored, especially given the intensity of competition from so many other outstanding programs throughout the region. She said it was a testament to the dedication of RIC’s students, faculty and staff.

“Rhode Island College has for many years educated performers who have gone on to be highly successful singers, actors and dancers,” Carriuolo said. “The success of our students, faculty and professional staff this year at the regional American College Theater Festival, though, is truly phenomenal. RIC was judged outstanding in the full range of categories.”

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from more than 600 colleges and universities nationwide, allowing theater departments and student artists to showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival honors excellence of overall production and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, directing and design. It also has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States.

James Taylor, chairman of the RIC Department of Music, Theater and Dance, said it was an honor to have so many actors invited by KCACTF to compete. “It’s a testament to the current outstanding talent we have at RIC. It speaks to their dedication and effort to our program and their pursuit of excellence.”

RIC’s representation at the festival is due largely to the outstanding efforts of a team of of professors that includes Angelica Vessella, director of dance; Alan PIckart, scenic lighting and sound designer for theater and dance; and Bill Wilson, director of musical theater.

Other RIC honors during the festival:

·      Marissa Silva, a RIC senior from Woonsocket, received an honorable mention, placing third in excellence in musical theater.

·       “The Drowsy Chaperone” was cited for outstanding musical ensemble and outstanding execution of design.

·      “A-Mirror-Ca” was honored for excellence in writing, ensemble and execution.

·      Jessie Darrell Jarbadan was cited for outstanding costume design for her work in RIC’s production of “The Miracle Worker.”

In addition, RIC senior Brendan Macera and junior Nicole Calkins were finalists in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition, during which students from throughout the region were invited to compete for scholarships.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s goals are to encourage, recognize and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs; to provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight and achieve professionalism; to improve the quality of college and university theater in America; to encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays, especially those written by students, as well as the classics, revitalized or newly conceived and experimental works.