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Theater students head to D.C. stage competition


Olivia Hughes, with scene partner Sean Nill, are ready for their face-off with other actors in Washington, D.C.
Sac State students brought home several awards from a recent acting competition, with two of them heading for the Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and a showdown with 32 other college actors from across the nation.

Junior Olivia Hughes and her scene partner, sophomore Sean Nill, bested more than 200 other young actors at Humboldt State the week of Feb. 14 during the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Region VII Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. The competition included 207 actors from universities in all or parts of nine western states.

The eight regions will send two teams each to the national finals in Washington, April 18-23.

Hughes and Nill, along with four other Sac State students – Ro Bettencourt, Ure Egbuho, Krystle Jong and Shane Turner – also won scholarships to this summer’s CSU Summer Arts program at Fresno State.

“We did really great,” says Michelle Felten, Sac State Theatre and Dance professor and the students’ acting coach. “I think there were eight scholarships awarded in our region for CSU Summer Arts, and Sacramento State took six of them.”

Hughes was selected for the competition after her performance in last semester’s Nunsense, directed by Professor Ed Brazo. Having worked with Nill in that production, Hughes tapped him for her partner.

The first round of competition consisted of a three-minute scene. Round two added a two-minute scene to that, and round three tacked on a one-minute monologue or song. Hughes selected Douglas Carter Beane’s As Bees Drown in Honey, Michael Gow’s Away and the song “I Can’t Say No,” from Oklahoma! for her pieces.

She and Nill will be performing those same selections in Washington.

The two credited their success in regionals with not worrying about what the other teams were doing. “We didn’t watch any of the other actors and that, I think, helped us as far as confidence goes,” Hughes says.

“It was one round at a time,” adds Nill. “We didn’t worry about results, we just did the scenes.”

If they repeat their success in Washington, Hughes will receive a $3,000 scholarship and Nill has a chance at a $500 prize for best scene partner.

The two have a lot of confidence in themselves, and in each other.

“It’s an honor for her to consider me good enough to be her partner,” says Nill.

“We have a good relationship. We’re like family,” says Hughes.

For more information on the regional competition, visit For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.