University News | events

UCM Theatre and Dance Presents ‘Step Forward’ Benefit Performance

By Jeff Murphy, January 9, 2019

Step Forward

WARRENSBURG, MO – University of Central Missouri Theatre and Dance announces a benefit performance of “Step Forward,” produced during spring 2018. The performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, in James L. Highlander Theatre comes as student cast and production crew prepare to present the production at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Region V Festival (KCACTF) in late January.

The play was submitted to KCACTF for consideration as a “participating production” which resulted in two representatives of the festival attending the production previously to provide feedback and assess whether or not to invite its performance at the regional KCACTF 2019 in Sioux Falls, S.D. Representatives from KCACTF attended more than 50 “participating productions” and “Step Forward” is one of only five chosen to be performed at the festival.  “Step Forward” was written by the student cast under the co-direction of Theatre and Dance faculty members Ashley Miller-Scully and Dr. Julie Rae Mollenkamp. The show tackles topics which permeate today’s society such as Black Lives Matter, Science is Real, and Love is Love. It combines dance, acting, dialogue, music, and poetry.

Mollenkamp notes, “We are honored and overjoyed to be one of only five productions selected to perform at the Kennedy Center American College Region V Festival. The students’ work as citizen-artists is quite moving and they cannot wait to share it again. The combination of dance, singing, spoken word, and images connects our humanitarianism with our patriotism and promotes the notion of radical empathy, love in the face of hate. The faculty are so proud and inspired by our students.”

“It is an amazing honor to be selected to travel this show to Sioux Falls,” Miller-Scully added. “I think the audiences at KCACTF who see the show will be moved and inspired by this unique production and the power of its messages.  Our students put their heart and soul into creating this and its selection is a testament to their talent and creativity.”
The benefit performance Jan. 19 will raise money to aid in the cost of taking the production and the cast and crew to Sioux Falls. All funds raised will help keep the out-of-pocket costs as low as possible for the students. Everyone is invited to see the performance. Admission is free and donations will be taken at the door in the form of cash or check. Additionally, anyone who is unable to attend the benefit performance, but wants to assist with expenses to Sioux Falls can donate to their GoFundMe campaign.

The cast of “Step Forward” includes Ashton Bennett, Matthew Briggs, Emily Coffin, Omari Collins, Darian Duah, Demetrius Hampton, Tristan Jordan, Zach Kujath, Carly Othic, Lexi Poindexter, Jackie Price, Valerie Ruggle, Maya Strickland and Christina Foster. The crew includes Dr. Julie Rae Mollenkamp and Ashley Miller-Scully, co directors; Kayla Helms, stage manager;  Tanis Ham, assistant stage manager; Oliver Herron, scenic design assistant; Kayla Jestila, costume design;  Ben Gonzales, projections;: Cody Nelson, lighting and sound design;  Ken George, technical; director; Ethan Shaffer, master electrician; Kenlyn Shettlesworth, lighting design assistant; Travis Hampton and Sam Davin, costume crew; Kelsey Reynolds, running crew; Reilly Mullaney, board operations; Ally Fields, saxophone; Molly Ehrnman, house manager; Elise Marshall and Blake Legens, box office; Aaron Scully and Tony Smith, public relations.

The Kennedy Center America College Theater Festival Region V includes entries from institutions in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The festival is planned Jan. 20-26 in Sioux Falls. More information is available at


  • facebook
  • twitter
  • youtube
  • linkedin
  • instagram