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Theatre Arts students, faculty earn honors for 'Oklahoma!'

October 19, 2011 : Mitzi Bible/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University’s Theatre Arts Department has announced that three students have earned the Irene Ryan nominations and two faculty members have received merit awards of excellence from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) for their work in Oklahoma!, the first show of Liberty’s fall 2011 mainstage theater season.

In all, 13 Liberty students have received nominations this year (see list below), making them eligible for a regional competition in Florida in February where they will have a chance to win scholarships.

“The Irene Ryan is a collegiate version of being nominated for the Tony Award — it’s a huge honor,” said Linda Nell Cooper, department chair.

The nominations are named for the late acclaimed actress Irene Ryan, best known for playing ‘Granny Clampett’ in The Beverly Hillbillies. The KCACTF is a national theater program that involves more than 600 institutions throughout the United States with a goal of improving the quality of college theater. KCACTF sends respondents to assess shows at participating colleges and nominate students who have shown exceptional, professional work.

“The KCACTF is different from other competitions because it really encourages the feeling of ‘esprit de corps’ amongst all the colleges and universities, not a feeling of competition,” Cooper said. “Our goal as educators is to encourage and send the best talent from each university out into the professional world, so Irene Ryan is a way to acknowledge that.”

The KCACTF also acknowledges the work of faculty within the program. Cooper, who serves as a KCACTF respondent, was recognized for directing Oklahoma!. Tyson Long, technical director for the Department of Theatre Arts, was recognized for his design work in the show.

“Faculty merits are a way for the KCACTF to validate the faculty with the excellence they are doing,” Cooper said. “They are saying we are doing what we need to do to create young professionals. It’s really an encouragement for us to continue in our craft the way we do it.”

Liberty will have a chance for more recognitions in its following two shows of the year. Little Shop of Horrors opens Oct. 28 and Romeo and Juliet opens Dec. 2. For show times and ticket information, click here.


2011 Student Irene Ryan Nominations for Acting/Design:
Davis Mercer as Captain Billy Pearce in The Civil War
Taamu Wuya as Clayton Toler in The Civil War
Jacob Filegar for stage management of The Civil War
Hannah Blough as Rose in Enchanted April
Ruth Hitchcock as Lottie in Enchanted April
Michael Wrape for set design of Enchanted April
Caleb Hughes as Raoul in Phantom of the Opera
Rachel Day as Christine Daae in Phantom of the Opera
Kaitlin Patterson for stage management of Phantom of the Opera
Blake Cooper for sound design of Phantom of the Opera
Jeff Sundheim as Will Parker in Oklahoma!
Will Viriato as Ali Hakim in Oklahoma!
Tyler (TC) Williams for stage management of Oklahoma!

2011 Faculty Recognition for Excellence:
Tyson Long, technical director, for design of Oklahoma!
Linda Nell Cooper, department chair, for directing of Oklahoma!