WCSU picks up 11 Kennedy Center awards
Theatre Arts program repeats as big winner at national event

DANBURY, CONN. — The Western Connecticut State University Department of Theatre Arts hosted the Region One Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in late January for the second year in a row, and the outcome proved that “once-in-a-lifetime” occurrences can happen more than once. Western again had the opportunity to show off its stunning Visual and Performing Arts Center and at the same time demonstrate the talents of its students with a festival performance of “The Drowsy Chaperone,” the musical theatre program’s fall 2016 production.

As a result of the Region One performance, “The Drowsy Chaperone” earned 11 national awards from the KCACTF judges and an invitation for the director, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Tim Howard and student Jillian Caillouette, of Meriden, to attend the national KCACTF festival in Washington, D.C. last month.

“My first time at the Kennedy Center was a dream come true,” Caillouette said. “I was a little nervous at first about this new adventure — but it couldn’t have been more fulfilling. I took part in vocal coaching workshops, talk-back sessions, dance workshops and I got to see three remarkable productions. My overall takeaway from the festival is: believe in yourself, take risks and support your fellow artists.”

Attending Kennedy Center for the second year in a row was a thrill,” said Howard, coordinator of Western’s Musical Theatre program. “To have our production selected for Outstanding Musical, Direction and Choreography two years in a row acknowledges our reputation within the nation. This has increased WCSU’s visibility with industry professionals, prospective students auditioning for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre, and other learning institutions. I will continue to strive for excellence and I believe the festival inspires us all to reach for new artistic heights.”

Performance major Caitlin White, of Enfield, was selected out of all the students who attended the Region 1 festival to represent the region as a Leadership Fellow during national festival week. The fellows from each region spend the week in D.C. meeting with the nation’s leading theatre management professionals. 

“Coming back to the National American College Theatre Festival at the Kennedy Center for the second year as a Leadership Fellow was truly an honor,” White said. “I met working professionals from all different areas in the field, including the artistic director from Trinity Rep, Curt Columbus; the deputy dean of the Yale School of Drama and the executive director of Arena Stage; the managing director and founder of Woolly Mammoth Theatre and many more. The best part about it was that of the 16 professionals we met, nine of them were women in management positions, which, as a young woman pursuing a career in management, was very inspiring.”

Western’s KCACTF awards this year included:

Outstanding Production of a Musical: “The Drowsy Chaperone;” Outstanding Director of a Musical: Tim Howard; Outstanding Choreography: Elizabeth Parkinson and Scott Wise; Outstanding Ensemble of a Musical: “The Drowsy Chaperone;” Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Musical: Jillian Caillouette; Distinguished Performance by an Actress in a Musical: Shaylen Harger; Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Musical: Ryan J. Taylor; Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Musical: TJ Swetz; Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Musical: Sergio Mandujano; Distinguished Performance by Actors in a Musical: Manuel Torres and Jaret Starkey; and Distinguished Costume Design; Sharon Sobel.

Last year’s 14 national KCACTF awards for “Parade” was unprecedented for any university theatre arts program.



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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