Jewell makes it to theater festival semifinals, chooses Dyck as partner

Jewell makes it to theater festival semifinals, chooses Dyck as partner

02/01/08

This past weekend marked an important one for senior Hali Jewell’s and junior Kyle Dyck’s theater careers.

Both advanced to the semi-finals in the Irene Ryan Scholarship audition competition after traveling with eight other Baker students to take part in the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Omaha, Neb.

The festival consisted of 90 colleges from the seven states including Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota. Throughout the festival, students participated in workshops regarding all aspects of theater including management, improvisation, lighting, scenery design, make-up, acting and costumes.

“The Irene Ryan Scholarship audition competition is the most prestigious college acting competition in the country,” Tom Heiman, assistant professor of theatre, said.

Months before the festival, students from the region were nominated to compete in the Irene Ryan Scholarship audition competition held during the festival. A total of 343 students were nominated, but no more than six students can be nominated from each school, and Baker alone had five.

Jewell, sophomore Bob Linebarger, junior Claire Norland and freshmen Courtney West and Jeff Milton were nominated to compete, but Milton chose not to compete.

In the first round of the competition, the nominees performed a three-minute scene. After that, the number of contestants was cut from 343 to 36, who advanced to the semi-finals. Jewell, who chose Dyck as her partner, made the cut.

“We were hopeful going into the competition, but I wasn’t expecting anything,” Jewell said. “I knew it’d be very difficult to get to the semi-finals.”

Jewell and Dyck, who performed a scene from Baker’s recent production of “Blythe Spirit” in the first round had to perform a two-minute scene in the semi-finals. The team chose to perform a scene from last semester’s Alpha Psi Omega production “Baby with the Bathwater.”

“We have to give credit to Rachel Roberts as our resident acting teacher for her work with Hali and Kyle,” Heiman said. “They picked their pieces early and worked hard over the last months and took this very seriously. Considering the competition and the fact that only one in 10 make the first cut, you go in with optimism, but I knew we had some very talented teams.”

After the semi-finals, Jewell and Dyck got to have a talkback session with the judges and received a lot of feedback.

“All of our faculty work together very closely, so we had a lot of support,” Jewell said. “Kyle was a wonderful partner, and I was really lucky to have him because we had worked together before.”

Making it to the semi-finals wasn’t at all what Jewell and Dyck were expecting going into the competition.

“It was really far-fetched to make it, so we just stayed positive and didn’t let the competition get to our heads,” Dyck said. “The odds are so against you that making it to the second round was amazing, so we were definitely happy with that.”

Jewell was happy to have such an exciting experience during her senior year at Baker.

“We’re such a small and close-knit department that it really was a collaborative effort to get where Kyle and I got,” Jewell said.