Western students win regional theatre competition, advance to nationals

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University sent 22 students and faculty to the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) Region 1 competition in Fitchburg, Mass., in January. Multiple Western representatives won awards, and several more were honored — helping to add to the reputation the university’s theatre arts program has earned over the years.

“We’ve had finalists for the nationals, and one student won in sound design,” said Professor of Theatre Arts Sal Trapani. When asked about what those unfamiliar with this achievement might relate the victory to, Trapani said, “It is the equivalent of going to the Division 1 Final Four Basketball Tournament or the College World Series.”

Matt Bagley, a senior from Danbury, won the Irene Ryan Acting Awards issued for the region. With the help of Conor Daniel Bartram, a junior from Hamden, Bagley won a $500 scholarship for the achievement and will go to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., from April 18 – 24, to participate in the national competition for an additional $3,000 scholarship.

“I was beyond excited when we found out that we won the region. It was unreal,” Bartram said.

Jes Almeida, a senior from Stratford, was announced as the regional winner in the Hair & Makeup category, and also will travel to Washington, D.C. for the national competition.

“Many people don’t realize the effort and hours upon hours of hard work designers, directors, stage managers, actors and technical staff put into making these performances happen,” Almeida said. “To be recognized by the Kennedy Center feels equally amazing.”

Among the students to gain recognition during the regional competition were Lauren Sarnataro, of Waterbury, who was runner up in Stage Management. Allison Gauthier, of Southington, and Andrew Hendrick, of Fairfield, were finalists for the Musical Theatre Initiative Award. Eight additional students were cast in full-length and one-act play readings, and Erik Tonner, adjunct faculty member and alumnus, received a Merit Award for Innovative Staging of a Play for “As Bees in Honey Drown.”

“It is a great accomplishment for our program and the students that are part of it, our alumni, the rest of WestConn’s student body and all faculty and administration,” Trapani said.

The KCACTF was started in 1969 and features 18,000 students from more than 600 institutions. Since its inception, over 400,000 students have had their work critiqued.

WCSU offers a Bachelor of Arts in theatre arts, with concentrations in performance, design technology, theatre management and drama studies; or a Bachelor of Arts in musical theatre.

For more information, call (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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