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DWU Department of Theatre returns from regional festival; theatre director wins award

The Dakota Wesleyan University Department of Theatre students participated in the week-long Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and came home with new experiences, skills and awards--including one for DWU director Dan Miller.

The Dakota Wesleyan University Department of Theatre students participated in the week-long Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and came home with new experiences, skills and awards-including one for DWU director Dan Miller.

The students were competing for awards and recognition for various productions from the spring 2015 to fall 2015 seasons. Junior Ann Thury, of Parkston, was awarded Achievement in Scenic Design for both "Bedroom Farce" and "Spiders in the Night"; Jake Habermann, who graduated in May 2015, was awarded Achievement in Set Construction for "Bedroom Farce"; and senior Ian Hyde, Irvine, Calif., was awarded Achievement in Directing for "Spiders in the Night."

"Spiders in the Night" was an original play by DWU alum James Van Oort, of Mitchell.

Alaina Bertsch, a junior from Mitchell, and Madison Miller, a senior from Mitchell, both competed for the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship, and for the first time in DWU history, a student advanced to the second round. Miller was one of 64 students chosen out of 334 auditions to advance.

"Regrettably, she did not make it to into the final round of 16 nominations, but I am extremely proud of the amazing work these students did and felt they represented DWU theatre very well," said Dan Miller, who is also Madison's father.

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Dan Miller was also recognized last week-receiving Best Director of a Musical from BroadwayWorld.com for the production of "Spamalot" at the Sioux Empire Community Theatre in Sioux Falls last summer. Miller took the directing position under the condition that he could bring some of his own crew, which consisted of Thury, Habermann, Morgan Schoenfelder, a former DWU student, Brittney Kaufmann, who graduated in 2015, and Madison Miller, who was also presented the Best Choreographer award for her work.

DWU, belonging to Region 5 of the KCACTF, attends the regional festival in each January, along with North Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Minnesota. The region showcases its best productions, as well as offers activities, workshops, symposiums and the regional-level award program. The program involves 20,000 students from 700 academic institutions throughout the country.

There are also auditions for national scholarships and auditions for summer stock theatre and professional theatre jobs nationwide. Madison Miller and Bertsch, both from Mitchell, and Chris Gollnick, a sophomore from Bradley, auditioned for professional theatres, and Miller and Gollnick both received callbacks.

"It was, as always, a very productive week," Dan Miller said. "This is such an important week for our department, as it truly showcases the talent we have here at DWU, and it allows students to get feedback from others on their work and gives them an opportunity to network, to see what other universities are doing and to appreciate the art that is theatre."

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