Doane theatre students shine at KCACTF region 5 conference

Doane theatre students

With the Super Bowl approaching this Sunday, it’s appropriate to say Doane University theatre students could argue they just won their “Super Bowl” of theatre competition last week in Des Moines, Iowa.

Each year, students from Doane’s theatre department compete at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF), a weeklong event that allows students from every school in the nation to showcase their work in front of each other, while being judged by working professionals in the field, to compete for some of the most prestigious awards in collegiate theatre.

The KCACTF region five conference was held in Des Moines from January 21-27. Doane walked away from the event with more awards than any other school in Nebraska, and received among the most awards from any school in the entire seven-state region.

“It’s incredible,” said Rob McKercher, co-director of the theatre department at Doane. “I think this is the best year we’ve had at the conference in my 13 years at Doane. I’m so proud of the students. They were brilliant, worked extremely hard, and it paid off.”

KCACTF breaks up into eight different regions and Doane is a region five school, competing against colleges from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The competition is stiff, with every university in the seven-state region being represented at the festival. There are no handicaps related to a school’s size or the age of the student, even if they are a student in a master’s program.

With roughly 1,500 students represented from 200+ schools at the region five conference, Doane finished in the upper echelon, totaling more awards than nearly every school in the region.

“The work we see from our students does our university proud,” McKercher said. “We feel that we can put our work up against any regional theatre production and be comparable. That’s the quality of work our students produce.”

Doane had a number of highlights from the event, including winning a school-record eight Meritorious Awards, having four students and their partners reach the semifinal round of the Irene Ryan competition (66 teams narrowed down from 315+ in the first round), and having one student, Alex Hollmann ’19, win the national scenic design award for his design of Peter and the Starcatcher. By winning the scenic design category, Hollmann received an automatic spot to present at the KCACTF national competition in Washington D.C this April.

“It’s a huge honor to go to the national competition,” Hollmann said. “The experience will be immensely valuable. Part of the reason I came to Doane is because I get to do art sooner than what I would have been able to experience at other institutions. As a junior I’ve been able to design two mainstage shows, something you typically don’t have the opportunity to do until graduate school at most places. The early experience I’ve received at Doane has paid off.”

Another big highlight for Doane theatre at the festival was the opportunity to present a scene from Peter and the Starcatcher at the Invited Scene Showcase, which was one of eight scenes selected from the region five schools for “best scene.” McKercher says Doane was nominated three times for best scene, something that had never been accomplished previously.

“It’s fulfilling to know that the work we do here is being recognized in such a positive way,” said David Beran ’18. “It was so fun to get to work with the cast from that show one final time. We have a blast together.”

27 students and four faculty members represented Doane at KCACTF. Below is a list of some of the accolades students received at the event:

Alex Hollmann -- First place, National Scenic Design

Bosie Rand -- Protest Play selected playwright

David Beran -- Solo vocalist for the Musical Theatre Intensive

Austin Rousseau and Abby Weber -- Selected for the Longform Improv Intensive

Jimmy Nguyen -- Received eight callbacks during professional auditions

Alexia Childers and Ivy Banks -- Selected to act in ten-minute play festival

Shelby Bauer -- Presented her costume design of The Flick

Irene Ryan semifinalists & their partners:

  • Allison Baird and Lavance Reed
  • David Beran and Callie Jane Vickers
  • Josh Davis and Hailey Dunn
  • Jimmy Nguyen and Jack Wagner

Students involved in the Peter and the Starcatcher Invited Scene: David Beran, Alexia Childers, Justin Thorne, Austin Rousseau, Ivy Banks, Tyler Rambali, Josh Anderson, Paige Patton, Shelby Bauer, Grace Su, Mallari Hangman, Adam Kiehn with Daniel Haussler assisting as the stage manager.

More information on the KCACTF region 5 competition is available on their website.

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