Five LaGuardia Community College Students Nominated To Compete In Kennedy Center’s American Collegiate Regional Theater Festival
Five LaGuardia Community College students who were involved in the production of “Little Shop of Horrors” were nominated to compete in the Kennedy Center’s American
Collegiate Regional Theater Festival, a highly competitive audition that
will attract over 300 students from colleges and universities throughout
The five students nominated for Musical Theater Initiative and/or Irene
Ryan Acting Scholarships are:
● Daniel Feliz, who played Seymour, the innocent florist who
discovers a mysterious plant. He was nominated for two awards: a
Musical Theater Initiative and an Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship.
● Jasmine Holloway, who was cast in the role of Chiffon, the
lead singer of the four-women chorus. She was nominated for a Musical
● Tiffany Scott, one of two Audreys, Seymour’s co-worker in
the florist shop and love interest. She was nominated for the Irene
Ryan Acting Scholarship.
● Javon Minter, the voice of Audrey II, the man-eating plant
from outer space. He was nominated for an Irene Ryan Acting
● Patrick Surillo, the production stage director, who received
an Outstanding Stage Management nomination.
Two students—Kamila Lipinska, who also played Audrey; and Francisco
Carrillo, who was cast in a multitude of roles, were named Irene Ryan
“Participation in the festival is an incredible component to the
college theater student’s experience,” said Professor Stefanie
Sertich, who submitted the College’s first-ever application to the
Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF). “And the
fact that our students were not only selected, but garnered the most
nominations, is quite an accomplishment. I couldn’t think of a better
way to launch the new Theater major.”
Started in 1969, KCACTF is a national theater program whose mission is
to improve the quality of college theater in the U.S. Its network
comprises more than 600 academic institutions nationwide and involves
18,000 student artists who showcase their work.
The nomination process began last May when Professor Sertich invited
two festival judges to attend the production of the comedy horror rock
musical. Professor Jason Ramirez, the show’s director, staged a
production that was based on the original Roger Corman B-movie of 1959.
To capture the feeling of Corman’s work, Dr. Ramirez, interspersed
archival black and white film footage from the original, and staged the
first act in black and white; a full color palette was added in the
second act. “It was very ‘Wizard of Oz,’” he said.
Professor Lisa DeSpain was the musical director and Steven Hitt, the
Managing Director of LPAC, was the choreographer. Dr. Ramirez
recruited a stellar design staff—a lighting designer from the
Roundabout Theater Company and a costume designer from the Ridiculous
Theater Company— and a band of Broadway musicians.
But the 13 student cast members were the stars. “The judges
applauded the tremendous effort, commitment and talent of our cast and
crew,” said Professor Sertich. “What impressed them most was that
only a few of our students had ever performed on stage before.”
That included Daniel, a 19-year-old Theater major who captured two
nominations, and Javon, a Philosophy major, who was the voice of Audrey
II, the very hungry plant. “What I found interesting was that Javon,
who was not physically onstage, was nominated for what he did with his
voice,” said Dr. Ramirez.
Another impressive first-time execution, he said, was Patrick’s stage
direction. “He called a very intricate show, which involved a lot of
lighting, sound, set and video cues,” he said. “It was a ridiculous
amount of work for a veteran stage manager, and he handled it like a
The professor added that what makes Patrick’s nomination even more
impressive is that, as a rule, the students who compete in this category
come with years of stage managing experience.
Dr. Ramirez said that although the College’s theater program is in
its infancy, he is not surprised over the students’ impressive work.
“We are 15 minutes from Broadway, so the level of training we are
giving the students is of that caliber,” he said. “It would not
make sense to train them at a lesser level.”
The five nominees now have six months to practice their song and scene
selections and develop their script for the regional festival auditions
held at Cape Cod Community College in January. At the five-day
festival, the students also will participate in a wide range of
workshops, including playwriting, acting, singing, design and stage
management, all taught by professionals.
Selected from each of the eight regional festivals will be the top two
candidates. The 16 students who reach this stage will receive a $500
scholarship and the chance to compete in the national festival held in
Washington, D.C., in April 2013.
But for now, the theater professors are focusing on getting the
students prepared for the nationals. “This is the first time they are
involved in a high-stakes audition,” said Professor Sertich, “and we
are going to make sure they are ready.”