Susan Deiger
UNK Theatre, 308.865.8406

Theatre students at the University of Nebraska at Kearney received multiple awards at the Kennedy Center College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) held recently in Lincoln.

The festival features a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country. Theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessments by KCACTF respondents.

This year, the UNK theatre program was represented by 22 students, including December graduates, and three faculty members at the week-long festival.

Five UNK students were nominated to compete in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition at KCACTF. The Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships provide recognition and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education.

Irene Ryan nominee Ryan Hruza of Ord and his partner Matthew Schwan of Western reached the final 16 of the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition, 325 pairs of nominees and partners began the competition.

Nominee Dillon Nelson of Burwell and his partner Addison Heeren of Juniata made it to the semi-finals of the competition.

Nominees Megan Buresh of David City, Taylor Hubbard of Hastings and Nate Rocke of Lincoln, and their respective partners Tommy Augustin of Crofton, Charisa Ramsey of Lincoln and Makenzie Hinrichs of Hastings, participated in the preliminary rounds.

Students who also received awards in the competition are listed below, alphabetically by hometown.

Stacey Ockinga of Bennet and Joseph Allen of Kearney were recognized for their technical work on “A Bright New Boise.”

Dillon Nelson of Burwell was selected from the region’s Irene Ryan semi-final competitors to serve as the emcee for the Costume Parade.

Christine Cottam of Hastings placed first in the Regional Theatre Management Challenge.

Kyle Garrelts of Kearney was honored with an Outstanding Portfolio award for best portfolio in region.

Brenna Leigh of Kearney placed second in the Regional Allied Crafts competition for her costume construction project for “And Then There Were None.”

Faculty involved in KCACTF include Janice Fronczak, directing initiatives coordinator on the Regional Advisory Board, presented a workshop; Sara Ice, regional costume parade coordinator and regional selection committee member, presented two design intensives and one workshop; and Darin Himmerich, respondent for the Golden Hand Truck Award for most efficient production load-in/out, presented one design intensive.

The UNK production of “Bright Ideas” was recognized for achievement in Ensemble Acting and was held for consideration to be presented at the festival.

The festival, which started in 1969, is a national theater program involving approximately 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide.

Other UNK students who competed in the festival are listed below, alphabetically by hometown.



Cozad- Ryan Bevard

Fremont- Jamie Bentley

Kearney- Kyle Kuypers (December grad)

Ogallala- Nathaniel Baldwin

Omaha- Crystal Schroeder

Omaha- Madison Hoge




Panora- Rebecca Epperson