Northwest theatre program racks up accolades

Students and instructors involved in Northwest Mississippi Community College’s theatre program have much to be proud of after sweeping the regional Allie Awards and seeing exciting successes at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

The Allie Awards are hosted by the Northwest Mississippi Theatre Alliance, and recognize regional high school and community theatre performers. The awards show is meant to resemble Broadway’s Tony Awards. The 17thAnnual Allie Awards took place at the Landers Center in Southaven on Feb. 7.

Allie Awards received for Northwest’s production of “Aida”: Best Vocal Direction – Dr. Saundra Bishop; Best Sound – Alyssa Algee; Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical – Rodney Hall, of Olive Branch; Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical – Brietta Goodman, of Horn Lake; Best Musical; and Best Overall Production.

Allie Awards received for Northwest’s production of “An Inspector Calls”: Best Set – Algee; Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play – Abby Morton, of Hernando; Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play – Wesley Williamson, of Southaven; Best Director of a Drama – Algee; and Best Drama.

Additionally, Northwest’s production of “Play On!” earned the award for Best Comedy, with the show’s director, alumna Katie Hardeman, earning the award for Best Director of a Comedy.

Northwest also fared well at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF),competing in KCACTF’s Region IV festival, which encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Southern Virginia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The University of South Carolina Upstate hosted this year’s event.

Sadie Shannon, Northwest Speech and Theatre chair, and Algee, technical director of Fine Arts, took 16 students to the competition.

“There are not many community colleges that attend the festival, so we’re competing against four-year universities and grad students, and we always do very well,” Shannon said.

Student Ja’Sha Triplett, of Horn Lake, was awarded first place for makeup design in the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC)/David Weiss Award for Theatrical Design Excellence.

Student nominees Goodman, with partner Joshua Luther, of Senatobia, and Kate Walker, of Hernando, with partner Bret Arton, of Hernando, made it to the semifinals of the Irene Ryan Acting Competition.

“That is an incredible accomplishment; not only because of the level of talent and having to compete with universities and graduate students, but also because of the cut,” Shannon said. “They start with 400 people and for the semifinals, they cut to 80 students.”

Goodman also made it to the finals (top six) of the Musical Theatre Initiative, and was able to perform in the final gala on the last night of the festival.

In addition, student actors Nelson Meredith, of Olive Branch, and Chapell Chumley, of Tupelo, were cast in the Ten Minute Play Festival, in which they rehearsed with the playwrights and student director and performed original shows within a four-day span.

During this year’s event, Shannon received the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Direction and the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Costume Design for “Aida.” Algee earned the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Direction for “An Inspector Calls,” the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Scenic Design for “Aida,” the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Scenic Design for “An Inspector Calls,” and the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Lighting Design for “Aida.”

Additionally, guest director Hardeman won the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Direction for “Play On!”, and Bishop won the Meritorious Achievement Award for Excellence in Music Direction for “Aida.”

For more information about Northwest’s theatre program, visit the college’s website at northwestms.edu.

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