Students and Faculty Attended Regional Theater Festival

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A group of Westminster College students and their advisers attended the Region II Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Jan. 12-16 at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet and network with peers and to work with some of the best faculty and professional artists in the region," said Dr. Scott Mackenzie, Westminster College associate professor of theatre and faculty adviser to several of the students, who attended the festival.

Four Westminster students were nominated and competed for Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships for their work in Theatre Westminster productions:

Sophomore engineering major Derek Fredrickson is a son of Craig and Lynn Fredrickson of Grove City and a graduate of Grove City Area High School. He was nominated for his performance in Premium.

Junior theatre and communication studies major Chelsea Gallo is a daughter of Duane and Kelly Gallo of Perryopolis and a graduate of Frazier High School. She was nominated for her work in Premium. "It was an honor being nominated by the Kennedy Center," she said. "It was nice to get feedback from other professors and see what kind of work other colleges are doing."

Senior broadcast communications major Allyson King is a daughter of Richard and Cheryl King of North Versailles and a graduate of East Allegheny High School. She was nominated for her role in Pride and Prejudice. "It was such a great opportunity to audition for the Irene Ryans, and to meet and watch other students from the region," she said. "I learned a lot from the workshops and am so glad I had the opportunity to compete."

Junior music education major Alicia Pabrinkis, a daughter of Karen Dodson of Pittsford, N.Y., and John Pabrinkis of Rochester, N.Y., is a graduate of Pittsford Mendon High School. She was nominated for her work in Getting Out.

Senior elementary education major Kirstyn Gecina is a daughter of Paul and Carrie Gecina of New Castle and a graduate of Shenango High School. She was nominated for her performance in Pride and Prejudice, but was unable to attend because of illness.

"In the preliminary round of competition, each nominee needs a partner to perform with them," said Mackenzie. "Partners give a full memorized stage performance along with the nominee."

Students who attended the competition as partners were:

Freshman English major Andria Alessio, a daughter of Lisa Alessio and Steven Alessio, both of Grove City, is a graduate of Grove City Area High School. She partnered with Fredrickson.

Senior English major David Lynch is a son of Daniel and Diane Lynch of New Castle and a graduate of Neshannock High School. He partnered with King and Pabrinkis.

Freshman music education major Deanna Nebel, a daughter of Cheryl Kaufman of Pittsburgh and John Nebel of Turtle Creek, is a graduate of Woodland Hills High School. She partnered with Gallo.

Senior broadcast communications major Ryan Hitchcock is a son of William and Kimberly Hitchcock of Erie and a graduate of McDowell High School. He was scheduled to partner with Gecina.

Additional Westminster students who attended the festival to participate in workshops and observe the work of other students were:

Senior biology major David Kellner is a son of David and Betsy Kellner of Seneca and a graduate of Cranberry Area High School.

Sophomore theatre major Tegan McCune is a daughter of Larry and Sonja McCune of Indiana and a graduate of Indiana Area High School.

Gianni Downs, Westminster assistant professor of theatre, was one of the advisers with the group. He attended Gallo's competition and the feedback session associated with it.

"Having watched 10 of her colleagues' scenes, I believe that she performed very well," Downs said. "I was very pleased with the level of preparation and professionalism she showed throughout the workshop, and the feedback she received from the two professionals was very positive and well detailed."

Downs also attended several workshops on design and production, as well as the designer portfolio exhibit.

"I had several opportunities to sit down and talk with fellow professors of theatre design about teaching methods, ideas, and philosophies," Downs said. "This was extremely valuable, as it is always important for me to find ways of getting key concepts and technical skills across to students from a variety of backgrounds."

Actor Bill Pullman was the festival's keynote speaker, and five of the Westminster students participated in a workshop conducted by Pullman.

"Taking a class from Bill Pullman was amazing," Gallo said. "No one expected him to be teaching the class, so it was a total shock when he was the 'guest instructor' for the Movement for Actors class."

Alessio added her thoughts: "Bill Pullman was fantastic and had a lot of good insight to help us with our on-stage presence."

The students received travel/presentation grants from Westminster's Drinko Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The Drinko Center was created to enrich undergraduate education at Westminster through advancing world-class teaching as well as by participating in collaborations that address community and regional needs including strengthening K-12 education. The Undergraduate Research Initiative provides funding for students to conduct research and to present their research at regional and national conferences. Visit for additional information about the Drinko Center.

Contact Mackenzie at (724) 946-6238 or e-mail for more information. Visit for more information on the Region II festival.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College is a top tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Guide to America's Best Colleges. Westminster ranked third among liberal arts colleges in social mobility, according to the Washington Monthly College Guide, and is one of the most affordable national liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 371 Colleges" and "Best in the Northeast" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 41 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.

Click image to enlarge.

(L-r) Tegan McCune, Chelsea Gallo, Bill Pullman, Allyson King, Andria Alessio, Deanna Nebel