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January 14, 2022

SVSU thespians, musician shine at regional theatre festival

Students from Saginaw Valley State University recently made their mark as some of the best collegiate performing artists, producers and designers in the Midwest. 

Eight students virtually competed in the 2021 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Region 3 Festival (KCACTF) from Jan. 5-9. 

Three SVSU students advanced into the final rounds: 

  • Kylee Monahan, a theatre major from Saginaw, won the KCACTF Stage Management Fellowship Award for her work on “Animal Farm.” She and five other finalists will be invited to attend the Kennedy Center National Conference in Washington, D.C. to participate at the national level. 
  • Jaden O'Berry was the runner-up for the KCACTF Award for Theatrical Design Excellence in Lighting Design. The theatre major from Flint received the award for her lighting design for “Joan: The Girl of Arc,” the first livestreamed SVSU show of the 2021 season.
  • Alexandra “Lexie” Schultz, a music major from Saginaw, is a Musical Theatre Initiative finalist and was also the 2021 winner. 

Additionally, Lucas Inman, a theatre major from Saginaw, and O'Berry were the winners of The Games of the Technological Olympiad Game show. In Tech Olympics, five events such as lights, sound, knots, wardrobe, and scenery/carpentry are judged on time with reductions for errors and omissions. 

To compete for the KCACTF Stage Management Fellowship Award, Monahan created a letter of intent and submitted materials in a PowerPoint presentation that showcased her process as a stage manager for “Animal Farm.” This included calendars, props tracking sheets, show duties, rehearsal/production reports and pictures from the show. She then went through two rounds: a presentation followed by a more casual conversation about her experience. 

“As stage manager, I get to be a part of every moving piece of the show from blocking to costumes to the scenic design,” Monahan said. We have yet to put on a show where I am not amazed at seeing it all come together to create one cohesive story.”

Monahan said she is excited and nervous about the prospect of competing on the national level in Washington, D.C.  

“It is daunting to think about, but I know that this is a great opportunity to learn, grow and meet people in my field.” 

Monahan is expected to graduate from SVSU in May 2022. 

Also competing at this year’s festival were: 

  • Adam Coggins, a theatre major from Swartz Creek 
  • Erica Close, a theatre major from Essexville 
  • Dani Durst, a theatre major from Newaygo 
  • Olivia Greanias, a theatre major from Saginaw 

Peggy Mead-Finizio, an SVSU assistant professor of theatre, serves as the co-chair of Design, Technology, and Management of Region 3. 

KCACTF is a national theater program that aims to improve, advance and celebrate theatre programs in colleges and universities. The festival honors excellence of overall production and presents student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships in the categories of playwriting, acting, criticism, directing, and design. The program annually involves 18,000 students from across the country.

Region 3 covers colleges and universities in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and western Ohio. Eight regional festivals are held in January and February. This year, all regional festivals are virtual.

The national festival, which takes place in Washington, D.C. in April, involves about 125 regional nominees and award-winners who have the opportunity to learn from and connect with established theatre artists and their peers and to participate in master classes, conversations, presentations and staged readings.