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Faculty and Students Honored at Theater Festival

KEENE, N.H., 02/20/09 - Faculty and students from the Department of Theatre and Dance at Keene State College received multiple honors in the 41st New England, Region I Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival held at Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, Mass., Jan. 27-Feb. 1.

This year’s student production of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker was invited to attend the festival, where it was received with great enthusiasm. Keene State was one of five New England colleges selected from the 116 adjudicated for inclusion in the festival. Professional respondents and student critics of the festival’s productions gave The Matchmaker a unanimous thumbs up.

As one claimed, “From the moment one arrives at the theater to the moment the play ended, the production dedicated itself tirelessly to the constant entertainment of its audience and … flourished magnificently.”

Several KSC students and faculty were recognized for their work in The Matchmaker and other KSC productions.

Liz Panneton (?09) of Merrimack, N.H., received honorable mention for the National Barbizon Award for lighting design in The Matchmaker. The technical staff of The Matchmaker production received the Golden Hammer Award. The award is given to acknowledge the cooperation, organization, skill, and efficiency of the top production crew loading in and loading out their production. KSC theatre faculty member and technical director Craig Lindsay of Keene, N.H.; assistant technical director, theatre major Alex Trombly (?11) of Swanzey, N.H.; and lighting advisor and touring assistant Jeremy Robarge led the cast and crew to this honor.

Gilly Clarke-Moon (?09) of Keene, N.H., received the second-place National Sound Design Award for her work in Hot House.

Lauren Duffy (?09) of Nashua, N.H., received first place in the Regional USITT New England Award in Technical/Craftsmanship for her design and execution of shadow puppets in The Rolling Collection.

Festival participants were selected based on the excellence of work in Theatre and Dance Department productions. Six students and their partners participated in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Awards auditions, and five attended for their work in technical design. The candidates included Chris Kelly of Bethel, Conn.; Kade Hill of Turner, Maine; Hayley Luoma of Keene, N.H.; Ethan Selby of Peterborough, N.H.; and Allison Relihan of Wakefield, Mass. Their partners were Jess Berman of Unionville, Conn.; Janis Deedy of Nashua, N.H.; Tyler Gammans of Spofford, N.H.; Jordan Mitchell-Love of Saxtons River, Vt.; Ryan Ouellette of Milford, N.H.; Jaime Pearsons of Suffield, Conn.; and Michael Soldati of Somersworth, N.H. Students attending for their technical design work were Chris Bell of Higganum, Conn.; Gilly Clarke-Moon of Keene, N.H.; Lauren Duffy of Nashua, N.H.; and Ben Welsh of Ellicott City, Md. Liz Panneton of Keene, N.H., was a nominee for the Irene Ryan Award and received an award for her lighting design.

Allison Relihan, with her partner Michael Soldati, was one of only 36 candidates who moved forward to the semi-final round of the Irene Ryan competition.

All students were selected for their performance or work in last spring’s The Rolling Collection, directed by Ron Spangler, or the fall productions of Fat Men in Skirts, directed by Ron Spangler, or The Matchmaker, directed by PeggyRae Johnson.

KSC theatre faculty member Céline Perron of Keene, N.H., received a Meritorious Award for puppetry design for her play The Rolling Collection.

The Matchmaker director, PeggyRae Johnson, led the four-day Respondent Training Workshop, preparing faculty members from throughout the region to attend productions to provide feedback. Johnson is a past Associate Chair of Region 1 and recipient of the Kennedy Center National Acting Fellowship and the Kennedy Center Medallion.

Professor for the KSC Theatre and Dance Department Daniel Patterson of Troy, N.H., led a National Critics Institute workshop training young theatre critics. He is on the executive board and sits as the chair of the National Critics Institute for Region I. He also serves on the selection team as an adjudicator traveling throughout New England, attending some of the 100 shows entering their productions. He was co-chair, with KSC Theatre and Dance assistant professor Ron Spangler, of the KCACTF Region I when KSC hosted the event in 2002-2003.

Jenny Fulton, set designer and faculty member of the Theatre and Dance Department, and Mary Robarge, costume designer, were praised by one student critic who wrote, “Equally impressive are the costumes and set, which are nothing less than elegant. The set throughout the four acts is stunning in simplicity and vitality, keeping true to the witty dialogue of the play. There is a conscious effort here to make this piece a fun vehicle to relish.”

The festival brings students and faculty together to see some of the area’s strongest productions, participate in workshops, and compete in a variety of areas in theatrical performance, design, and production.

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