Thursday, April 15, 2010

FURTHER INFORMATION:            STACY ARMSTRONG (626) 857-4082, CHERIE BROWN (626) 914-8840


Citrus College Students Receive Top Honors at Theatre Festival

by Rachel White


Two Citrus College students recently received top honors at the region’s most prestigious festival for collegiate theatre.


Covina resident Jeremy Lewis and Claremont resident Valerie Bentson were among a delegation of Citrus College students and faculty who recently attended the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival at Dixie State College in Utah.    The festival, which ran February 9-13, featured colleges from five western states.  Approximately 1,300 college students participated in this invitation-only event.


Lewis won the regional Student Directing Fellowship competition and Bentson was a finalist in the Irene Ryan Scholarship competition.


“The festival provided a tremendous opportunity for our students to share ideas, see shows from other colleges, and attend workshops,” said Cherie Brown, director of the Citrus College Theatre Arts Program.  “They were literally inundated with theatre all week long and learned valuable information about careers in theatre, as well as acting for film and television.”


Lewis was nominated to participate in the festival’s Student Directing Fellowship competition for his work as a student director in the Citrus College production of Neil Simon’s “California Suite.”  He was one of 16 student directors from colleges such as California State University, Fullerton; Pepperdine University; and Chapman University, who were selected to compete.  To participate in the competition, each student was required to submit directing portfolios, write essays, complete an interview process and stage a selected scene for performance.


“Before I came to Citrus I had real world theater experience, but no educational experience,” said Lewis whose parents work in the entertainment industry.  “The Citrus College Theatre Arts Program is on par with theater programs at major universities. The difference is at Citrus you have more opportunities.  You can benefit from working closely with a small group of talented students and with faculty who are passionate about what they do.”


Lewis was selected as the national finalist from Region VIII.  He will represent the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii and Utah at the National Kennedy Center Theatre Festival in Washington D.C. from April 11 through April 18.  At this time, he will have the opportunity to work with world-renowned playwrights and directors.


“Jeremy is a hard worker and a leader,” Brown said of her student.  “He is a very good role model who understands the dedication, responsibility and commitment it takes to succeed.”


Lewis said that his selection as a national finalist for the Student Directing Fellowship has already opened doors for him.


“I’ve been asked to judge a theatre competition at Fullerton College, I’ve had several directing jobs and I’m the stage manager for the Citrus spring production of “Noises Off,” he said.


Bentson was one of 300 students nominated to participate in the Irene Ryan Scholarship competition at the Utah festival based on her performance as Diana in “California Suite.”  The competition involved performing scenes before a panel of judges who eventually narrowed the finalists down to 16.  Bentson was one of those 16 finalists.


“It meant that my hard work paid off,” Bentson said of the distinction.  “It gave me confidence.  I felt 100 percent supported by Cherie Brown and the other Citrus College theater professors.”


Brown was not surprised by Bentson’s success.


“Valerie is a very natural talent,” she said.  “The audience gravitates toward her when she is on stage.”





FURTHER INFORMATION:            STACY ARMSTRONG (626) 857-4082, CHERIE BROWN (626) 914-8840


Theater award winners