KEARNEY – Director Noelle Bohaty broke the news to her performers in a very Grinch-like way.
“Sometimes we do the work and we think it’s awesome and we’re not recognized for that, and that’s OK,” she told the University of Nebraska at Kearney students, keeping them in suspense for a few moments.
“And sometimes we are,” she added. “This is the latter.”
Screams, cheers and hugs followed as the students learned their production of “Eurydice” was selected for the 51st annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival regional in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A UNK theater production hasn’t been featured in the prestigious event since 1993, when Jack Garrison directed “Turtle Island Blues.”
“It’s a pretty big deal,” said Bohaty, who had a hard time keeping the secret from her cast and student staff.
“There were a couple days when I was basically exploding because I couldn’t tell them,” she said.
UNK is one of six schools that will perform plays during the Region 5 festival Jan. 20-26, along with the University of Northwestern St. Paul (“Alice in Wonderland”), Iowa State University (“Iphigenia”), University of Missouri (“Passion Play”), University of Central Missouri (“Step Forward”) and Morningside College (“Trifles”). The region includes schools in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
“Eurydice,” written by Sarah Ruhl, dives headfirst into the story of Orpheus and Eurydice from the young heroine’s perspective. Eurydice is a bright young woman with a passion for philosophy and literature engaged to the greatest musician, Orpheus. When her late father attempts to contact her from the underworld on her wedding day, an Interesting Man and his chorus of Stones maliciously intervene.
The play, originally performed Nov. 14-18 at UNK, blurs the line between theater and dance, creating a special opportunity for Bohaty, who directs UNK’s dance program.
“Integrating that much dancing into a fully realized script is different,” she said. “Not a lot of people are doing that.”
In addition to performing at a new venue for a new audience, the regional festival provides professional networking and educational opportunities for students through workshops and other events, including interview sessions with regional and national producers, a “showdown” between stage crews and scholarship auditions.
“They’ll get a sense of what life in the professional theater world might look like for them,” Bohaty said.
Before that happens, the UNK students, staff and faculty involved with the production have a lot of work to do. The artistic team is already meeting to discuss the logistics of moving a show from UNK’s Fine Arts Building to a different stage 300 miles away.
“It’s a pretty massive undertaking,” said Bohaty, who will start rehearsals as soon as students return from winter break.
“We’re going to hit it pretty hard right away,” she said.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will host 125 outstanding collegiate theater students during the national festival April 15-20 in Washington, D.C. Those students, selected from the eight regional festivals, receive an expenses-paid trip to the event.
Cast (listed by hometown)
Omaha – Mary Dworak, Worry Stone/Wedding Guest/Jitterbug
Kearney – Tony Koetters, Interesting Man/Lord of the Underworld
Lincoln – Trisha Marie Miller, Big Stone/Wedding Guest/Jitterbug
Columbus – Hayden Nelson, Orpheus
Omaha – Emma Newman, Understudy
Hastings – Kalee Reams, Loud Stone/Wedding Guest/Jitterbug
Scottsbluff – Hunter T. Scow. Little Stone/Wedding Guest/Jitterbug
Curtis – Mary Joyce Storm, Eurydice
Kearney – Scott Unruh, Father
Student Production Staff
North Platte – Seth D. Mavigliano, stage manager
Lincoln – Sammantha Hanks, assistant stage manager
Scottsbluff – Mikayla Fulk, properties master
Humboldt – Anthony Knudson, scenic designer
Faculty/Staff Artistic Team
Noelle Bohaty – Director
Darin Himmerich – Technical Director
Del DeLorm – Lighting and Sound Designer
Ronald Altman – Costume Designer
Anthony Donofrio – Original Music Composer