By Matt Riedl, news editor
Three actors from “Something’s Afoot” have been nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship award by judges from the Kennedy Center.
These judges, whom Director of Theatre Mark Mannette requested come, came on Saturday night and nominated senior Rebekah Baldridge, junior Pancho Fields and freshman Justin Ralph for the scholarship.
Now these three must each pick a scene partner to prepare for the American College Theater Festival regionals, held from Jan. 20 to 26 in Lincoln, Neb.
In the preliminary round, they will present a single two-person scene. If they advance to the semi-finals, they perform the same scene as well as a contrasting scene. Finally, if they advance to the finals, they have to re-perform everything plus a monologue or solo musical number.
Of the eight theatre judging regions nationally, Newman University is a member of Region 5. At the national festival in Washington, D.C., 16 $500 scholarships will be given out to regional representatives. Two $3,000 scholarships are awarded to the national winners.
In addition, national winners have in the past been able to audition for Broadway productions like “Book of Mormon” as a result of their Irene Ryan.
When Mannette announced the nominations, Fields said he couldn’t believe it at first.
“I was in a state of shock,” Fields said. “I’m a biology major. I didn’t think I could get nominated for an acting award.”
In fact, Ralph is the only one out of the three who is a theatre major.
Ralph said he has already decided to bring sophomore C.L. Smet, a longtime friend, as his scene partner.
As for Baldridge, she said she is unsure where even to start.
“I’m really floundering as to who I want to take or what scripts to use,” Baldridge said. “It’s a little overwhelming, but it’s wonderful. It’s a good thing.”
Baldridge, an English major, said the nomination is piquing her interest in theatre again.
“It’s really opening up some avenues I didn’t know were there,” Baldridge said. “I love theatre and want to keep it in my life. It’s an opportunity to continue being able to do that.”
The entire cast of “Something’s Afoot” may have the chance to be recognized at regionals, as the whole show is in the running for best overall production.
Technical Director Ben Juhnke has taken shows to regionals at Wichita State before coming here, and said it is a complex logistical process.
If selected, the cast and crew will have to practice disassembling and reassembling the entire set in under 5 hours to get ready for competition. The set will be transported up to Lincoln via semi-truck along with the cast, if the production is selected to go.
Based on the size of the play’s set, it would be considered a main stage show. Seven spots are open to productions of this classification, but there are 10 to 20 second stage slots for shows with smaller sets. Juhnke said it is possible the play could receive a second stage nomination. If that happened, Juhnke said the size of the set may have to be altered, but the content of the play and the blocking would be the exact same as was performed last week.
“It depends on the size of the theater,” Juhnke said. “There are a lot of unknowns about this whole thing.”
Juhnke said about 250 shows in the region compete for these spots at regionals.
For now, the future of “Something’s Afoot” is a mystery, appropriately.
Mannette said the final selections for regionals will not be announced until mid-December.