Saddleback thespians earn recognition of excellence

AND THE NOMINEES ARE (Courtney Zupanski)

Katie Widner

Six Saddleback College students were nominated for the 2009 Irene Ryan Scholarship Award and have been invited to audition at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Chet Wilson, Laura Bremer, Aaron Spann, Britlynn Allen, Walter Rusniczek, and Aimee Macalingay have all been recognized for their outstanding performances in Saddleback theatre department’s fall productions. The award, which is presented annually by the Kennedy Center, is given in recognition to students who display exceptional talent in a stage performance.

The award was established in 1972 by Irene Ryan, the actress who portrayed Granny in the ’60s hit television show “The Beverly Hillbillies”.

Only three of the six nominees will be auditioning at the regional festival that is being held at California State University, Fullerton. Bremer who was seen in “Charley’s Aunt”, and Rusniczek and Macalingay who acted in “A Contemporary Christmas Carol”, will be auditioning during the week of Feb. 10-14.
Auditions for the Irene Ryan Award consist of a one-to two-minute scene performed before a panel of judges.

“I am very honored and excited to represent my alma mater Saddleback College,” said Rusniaczek, who earned his associate degree from Saddleback in 1991.

The regional festival includes the dispersal of 16 scholarships of $500 vied for by over 575 college students from California, Utah, and Arizona. A talented few will move on to the national festival in Washington, D.C. where two $2,500 scholarship awards will be granted towards the winners’ university and degree of choice.

“The competition is pretty fierce,” said Saddleback’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” director and acting instructor Maria Mayenzet. “But Saddleback students are up for the challenge.”

Saddleback College had six students nominated for three consecutive years but this year is different.

“At this year’s festival, Saddleback College is represented in more than one way,” said Mayenzet, who was asked to judge. “Theatre student Shay Garber was nominated for the Stage Manager Fellowship Award.”

According to Mayenzet, the competition involves over 18,000 students and the event is also a great networking tool for collegiate theatre artists.

Aspiring Saddleback thespians are encouraged to take advantage of the festival’s close proximity.
“Locality this year is great,” she added. “Two years ago we had to fly to Utah.”

The festival is open to the public and attractions include everything from scene design galleries, to acting workshops, to musical plays.

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