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Talent Opens the Way for Students at Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

scene from Little Shop of Horrors
Student & Alumni Stories
In a scene from Little Shop of Horrors, Sophomore Abigail Knepper (second from left) and Freshman Allyson Tinker (far right).

MNU’s Theatre Department sent 16 students to South Dakota to participate in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF), January 20-26, 2019. 

Throughout the week, students were exposed to multiple auditions, shows from other colleges, and opportunities for scholarships. Among the events offered, one was particularly meaningful to Sophomore Abigail Knepper and Freshman Allyson Tinker. Abigail and Allyson auditioned for the Open Jar Summer Institute, another week-long event in New York City, where selected participants are given “one-on-one training with Broadway's biggest stars.” 

Aside from the amazing opportunities the institute offers, Open Jar was created to help theatrical students feel empowered in their art and to defy any negative emotions that may keep students from pursuing a career in theatre. Students are to be open to everything, including both successes and failures, much like an open jar’s contents are not contained. 

Abigail and Allyson were two of only 60 students chosen to from KCACTF to attend Open Jar this summer. 

“It means the world to [me] having been accepted,” Abigail explains, still unable to stop smiling about it. “MNU’s theatre department really prepared [me] for this opportunity by conducting its own auditions in a similar way (a short dance combination and vocal performance),” she says. 

She also credits her success to multiple hours of rehearsal and feedback from Professor and Theatre Director, Heather Tinker. This is the first time MNU students auditioned for the Institute and Tinker is extremely proud of Abigail and Allyson. 

“It is an honor as a department and really shows the quality of students and education we have,” says Tinker. “I hope that this will help prospective students recognize the level of talent and opportunity they have in our Fine Arts and Humanities Department. 

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Summer 2021

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