Rider students earn top awards at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

Musical theater and stage management skills recognized
Rachel Stengel '14

Three Rider musical theatre students took home top honors at the recent Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Junior Abeba Isaac and senior Nick Ziobro took first place in the Musical Theatre Initiative competition, while Junior Gabrielle Bazinet won the stage management competition.

Isaac and Ziobro displayed their vocal and acting prowess during two rounds of the Musical Theatre Initiative, which required participants to first perform 30 seconds from two songs and then two full songs. Each earned a $200 scholarship for their outstanding performances. Additionally, Isaac earned a spot at the Open Jar Institute, a summer intensive for young actors and musical performers. The week-long experience includes a variety of musical theater workshops led by Broadway performers and tickets to different Broadway shows each night.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow as a performer from a number of guest artists," Isaac says.

Bazinet interviewed with a stage manager for her competition, reviewing all the production materials she used as the production stage manager for Rider's recent production of Bonnie & Clyde.

"I showed the judges my entire prompt book, which includes all of the light, sound and projection cues that I called during performances, all of my team’s backstage paperwork that indicated the movement of props and set pieces, and any reports and schedules I sent out during rehearsals," she says.

Both Isaac and Bazinet will advance to the final round in April at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Rider students also shone in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Auditions, which awards 16 regional and two national scholarships annually. Out of 100 participants, five Rider students advanced to the semi-finals, while three joined the pool of 16 finalists.

At Rider, musical theatre majors participate in multiple main-stage productions each year, affording many opportunities for students to apply what they are learning in performance. Participation in the performing arts is one of the pillars of the University’s Engaged Learning Program, and students and graduates can be seen performing in national touring companies and on Broadway.

Dr. Ivan Fuller, associate dean for the School of Fine & Performing Arts, is proud of his students' strong performances at the festival.

"It was a stellar showing for Rider," he says. "The crowd, judges, other competitors and faculty were certainly impressed with the talent of Rider's students."