Sterling College Theatre’s opening production of the year, Red Velvet, has been cited for excellence by the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival (KC/ACTF) organization. Red Velvet was staged the last weekend of August as the senior project of theatre major Torey Wilson.
Wilson played the central role of Ira Aldridge, the first African American to play Shakespeare’s title role in Othello. In addition, he directed the show with assistance from Sterling College Theatre Artistic Director Sasha Hildebrand.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Torey’s performance and production,” Hildebrand said. “It was icing on the cake to have such a glowing review from KC/ACTF for the show.”
Theatre professor Sean Byrd of Normandale Community College in Minneapolis, Minn. was the KC/ACTF juror for the Sterling production. He saw the show virtually and then met with Hildebrand and Werth virtually as well. According to Hildebrand, Byrd was impressed with the overall production particularly with how early in the school year it was staged. He had positive things to say about every actor and specifically mentioned the handling of the dialects and language in the show as well as the lighting and music choices.
The costuming for the show was noted for its effectiveness in evoking the 1800’s era as well as Shakespearean garb. Byrd was especially taken with the “seamless scene work” in the show, citing not only Wilson but Dylan Werth’s performance as well.
Byrd officially nominated both Wilson and Werth for Irene Ryan Acting Award consideration. Through this nomination both students will be able to compete at the regional level and, if chosen, may go on to compete for the national award in Washington DC. Wilson is planning on doing just that and is preparing his acting audition now for the regional KC/ACTF Conference in Des Moines, Iowa in January. Werth is choosing to prepare his costuming portfolio to share at the regional conference rather than compete in acting.
Sterling’s costumes from Red Velvet which were designed by Hildebrand were also cited by Byrd. His nomination of costumes means selected costumes from Sterling’s production will be part of the “Costume Parade” at the regional conference in January.
Red Velvet proved to be an excellent but unusual start to the Sterling College Theatre season. Wilson cast the show last spring and he worked with them on their characters and memorization from their various summer locales. “Torey did the initial blocking and summer work on the show, then I came in and helped finesse things in August once cast and crew were back on campus,” Hildebrand explained.
“The cast and crew worked well together and met the challenge of creating an unusual show staged in the round in a short amount of time,” she said. “The accolades are a nice acknowledgment of everyone’s efforts to bring the show to life.”