BY JANAY FITCHETT
In January, four Cumberland County College students were invited to participate in The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). The students were selected out of over 1000 people based on their performances. The four actors nominated were David Swadis, Matt Serra, Matt Giacomelli, and Kevin Kolva. Swadis played Murray the Cop in CCC’s The Odd Couple. The Odd Couple is his 11th show on CCC’s stage. Swadis will graduate this spring with an Associate of Fine Arts Degree in Acting. Serra played the role of Roy. He is currently in his 3rd semester at CCC as a Theatre Major. The Odd Couple is his 4th show under Professor Deborah Bradshaw and his 10th show overall.
Giacomelli played the role of Vinnie. He has completed 13 shows at CCC and graduated in May 2010 an Associates of Fine Arts in Theatre. Kolva played the role of Oscar Madison. The Odd Couple is his 12th show under the direction of Professor Bradshaw and has plans to earn an Associate of Fine Arts Degree in the future.
Mike Lopergolo, who played the role of Speed and Mariah Frost who played Cecily Pigeon also participated in the festival as scene partners.
The festival took place Jan. 10-14 2012. During that time, 211 finalists from all seven states in Region Two performed. The 211 finalists were narrowed down to the top 32 scenes. Both Swadis and Giacomelli placed in the top 32.
From there it was narrowed down to the top 16. Swadis and his partner made it to the finals. Professor Bradshaw stated, “That [one of our students making it to the finals] was exciting!” She also added that during the festival they saw a lot of performances and “They [her students] were right at the top, which was really great for CCC.” Bradshaw was awarded for excellence in directing for The Odd Couple.
The purpose of the festival is to identify and promote quality in college-level theater production. Once students and faculty are invited to the festival they can participate in programs involving scholarships, internships, grants and awards for actors, directors, stage managers and more at the regional and national levels.
Professor Deborah Bradshaw is the Director of Theatre Programs and Professor of Acting, Musical Theatre, and Voice at CCC. Bradshaw has produced and directed over 10 productions for CCC.
The process of selection for the festival began when Professor Bradshaw entered their production of the Odd Couple into the festival. Representatives of the festival came and watched a presentation of The Odd Couple and nominated four actors out of the cast of eight
All of the students were nominees to receive the Irene Ryan Award. These scholarships are made possible by the generosity of the late Irene Ryan who is best known for her role as Granny Clampett in The Beverly Hillbillies. All student actors participating in the festival are eligible for the $500 regional scholarships.
The Irene Ryan Scholarships provide recognition, honor, and financial assistance to outstanding student performers wishing to pursue further education. The Irene Ryan Foundation awards 19 regional awards and 2 fellowships annually. 16 of awards are a $500 scholarship for each regional representative of KCACTF. There are 2 scholarships of $2500 each for the winners at the national festival in Washington, D.C.
Bradshaw describes her students as wonderful, hardworking, and dedicated. She says they are totally committed to the program here and their work as actors. They were very supportive of each other throughout the festival and all-in-all they had a great time.
CCC’s theatre department is full of talented faculty, staff and students. Each year they put on three shows: a fall play, and a spring and summer musical. This spring’s musical is Fiddler on the Roof which will be presented April 19-22.
Congrats to Professor Bradshaw and her students.