Utah Actors Wow at Kennedy Center Competition; Regional Festival in Odgen on Feb. 7-11


For her acting prowess demonstrated at a regional festival on the Weber State University campus, BYU acting student Becca Ingram was named a finalist in the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition.

“In each piece Becca presented, she had variety and depth of character, genre, physicality and voice,” said Stephanie Breinholt, BYU theater department assistant professor, who coached Ingram. “I’m very excited for Becca and extremely proud of her.

Breinholt was a national Irene Ryan award winner in 1997, and the Provo, Utah, university has sent four other students to the Washington, D.C., competition who also earned the honor. The scholarship honors THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES actress, who funded the annual acting competition administered by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Ingram was nominated to compete after her performance of Anne in BYU’s production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. In Weber, Utah, Ingram performed scenes from SUMMER AND SMOKE by Tennessee Williams, ADAM AND EVE by Davey Morrison and SHAKESPEARE’S HENRY IV PART 1 before a panel of judges. Along with expenses to the national event in April, Ingram receives scholarships and stipends.

For the second consecutive year, a record four productions from Utah universities were chosen to be staged at the 44 th regional competition of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival on Feb. 7-11. The Utah selections join seven shows from collegiate theater departments in five western states.

“On a national level, we have an enormous amount of respect for the theater programs in Utah. The Utah productions have always been a tent pole at the festival,” said Gregg Henry, national artistic director of KCACTF. “In fact, we’re not surprised to see so many great productions come out of Utah; we have come to expect it.”

After the shows were staged on campus, a selection committee invited the universities to re-create the productions during the annual festival. The four productions in competition were THE ELEPHANT MAN, Brigham Young University; EURYDICE, Utah Valley University; XANADU, WSU; and by special invitation, THE CHRISTMAS MIRACLE OF JONATHAN TOOMEY, an original coproduction of BYU and SCERA Center for the Arts.

Considering that each of the universities and colleges in KCACTF’s Region 8 — from Central and Southern California, Arizona, Southern Nevada, Hawaii and Utah — are able to participate in festival, the honor becomes resoundingly clear.

Wendy Gourley, a UVU student, was also honored for her dramaturgy work on EURYDICE and a scholarly paper. The Orem, Utah, university earned the festival’s Golden Wrench Award for the same production.

Photo credit: Jaren Wilkey/Brigham Young University Photography ©2012

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