By Jeff Murphy, May 4, 2021
WARRENSBURG, MO - The prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) recognized two students and two productions from University of Central Missouri Theatre and Dance with national awards during its virtual festival in April.
One of the UCM students who were honored was Sabrina Ortiz, a senior from Dittmer, Missouri, pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. She received a Special Achievement in Dramaturgy award for her work in the dance concert, “Iconic.” This production was an outdoor event that took place at Audrey J. Walton Stadium in October 2020, and included dance numbers and songs from famous musicals ranging from “Singin’ in the Rain” to “West Side Story” and “A Chorus Line” to a several other classic selections.
Additionally, Danny Gage, a freshman digital media production major from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, pursuing a minor in theatre, received a Special Achievement in Performance honor for his role in “Tilikum.” This was a virtual production that was named for the infamous SeaWorld killer whale. It took the story of the sea creature that followed its death to create a poetic, percussive fantasy that also brought to life a range of social justice issues.
In addition to the student awards, “Tilikum” earned the following distinctions: Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Award, Innovative Use of Technology, Special Achievement in Ensemble Collaboration - Performance and Production, Special Achievement: Overall Production, and Special Achievement: Directing. The director was Drea Lewis, whose work as a guest director with UCM students was made possible by the Meridith Harmon Sauer Guest Artist Series.
In announcing the awards, KCACTF cited colleges and universities at the vanguard of
innovation in the field of theatre amid the pandemic, noting: “During these unprecedented
times, we celebrate these imaginative and evocative theatre-makers and productions
as being at the forefront of a revolution in artistry that ignites conversations of
national importance through innovation in process, content, form, design, technology,
outreach, and audience engagement.”
UCM Theatre and Dance learned of the honors from Jim Wood, KCACTF Region 5 Chair. A complete list of national production recognitions is available at kcactf5.org.