A.C.T. Alumni Take To Stages and Screens Nationwide
The American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) Program congratulates the alumni who have taken the American stage and screen by storm this month. A.C.T. adds its first Disney royalty to the alumni ranks as Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose stars in The Princess and the Frog as Disney's first African-American princess. Rose is also the first actress to voice the dialogue and the songs for a Disney princess. One of the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program's most recognizable graduates, Annette Bening mastered the title role of Medea in October during UCLA Live's InterNational Theatre Festival, while newcomer Cat Walleck (A.C.T. M.F.A. Program class of 2009 ['09]) is currently making her Broadway debut in the acclaimed production of The Royal Family.
Local stages are also seeing their share of A.C.T. alumni: Next door to the American Conservatory Theater at the Curran Theatre, Claire Brownell '06 and her understudy, Allison Jean White '04, are captivating audiences in the national tour of the Broadway record breaker Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. Local audiences can also catch Kelsey Venter '09 and Andy Alabran '94 in the Shotgun Players' production of The Threepenny Opera. Recent months have seen Jud Williford '04 in a critically hailed performance in Fat Pig at Aurora Theatre Company, Rod Gnapp in back-to-back runs of John Kolvenbach's Goldfish and Mrs. Whitney at Magic Theatre, and Nicholas Pelczar '09 in a hilarious turn in Peter Nachtrieb's boom at Marin Theatre Company.
Joining the roster of distinguished A.C.T. alumni are the current third-year M.F.A. Program students, the class of 2010, who are making their mainstage debuts in the holiday classic A Christmas Carol, which runs at the American Conservatory Theater through December 27. Five members of the class of 2010 will return to the mainstage in the new year: Mairin Lee and Sophia Holman join a cast of Stratford Shakespeare Festival favorites in Racine's grand tragedy Phèdre (January 15-February 7, 2010), while Nick Childress, Caroline Hewitt, and Omozé Idehenre join an ensemble of A.C.T. core Acting Company members in The Caucasian Chalk Circle, directed by Tony Award winner John Doyle (Sweeney Todd, Company on Broadway). You can also catch these marquee names of tomorrow at public productions of the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program performed throughout San Francisco. Visit www.act-sf.org for more information about all A.C.T. productions and the A.C.T. Conservatory.
"This autumn has seen a tremendous outpouring of talent across the nation from the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program," says A.C.T. Conservatory Director Melissa Smith. "The community of A.C.T. alumni is active, engaged, and vibrant. The class of 2010 enters the world of professional theater with a fantastic support system and high expectations in their pursuit of creating meaningful art."
Ranked as one of the top programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program was the first theater training program in the country not affiliated with a college or university accredited to award the master of fine arts degree. The M.F.A. Program functions as the cornerstone of the A.C.T. Conservatory, which also includes the Summer Training Congress, Studio A.C.T., and the Young Conservatory. The third and final year of the program is designed to give students the opportunity to focus primarily on performing for a public audience. Past M.F.A. Program third-year productions have included works by Christopher Durang, Charles Busch, Marc Blitzstein, Georg Büchner, Caryl Churchill, George Farquhar, Henrik Ibsen, Robert O'Hara, Harold Pinter, William Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Maxim Gorky, and Bertolt Brecht.