An invitation to the big stage

By Javier Cabrera / Editor in Chief

On the big stage (Joey Smith / Special to Viewpoints )

By Javier Cabrera / Editor in Chief

With an invitation to showcase its production of “Spring Awakening” the Riverside City College theater department will be a part of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region VIII in February.

RCC will be performing its musical at Weber State University along with other universities, community colleges and private colleges that were selected from the region which includes California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Hawaii.

Along with the other performances, RCC will be seen by the national selection team which is picked by the Kennedy Center and the regional national committee.

The festival’s focuses are to recognize the diverse work produced by each college’s theater program, provide opportunities for the students, improve the quality of theater programs at colleges in America and encourage colleges to give students more opportunities with the work they produce on their own.

 “It is a huge honor for us at RCC,” said Jodi Julian, associate professor of theater arts. “As the budget continues to fall, sometimes arts prevail.”

“I am excited about having this opportunity for the students and hopefully getting support from the college and the student body to help some of these students to go to the festival,” she said.

Julian’s students are excited to be able to have the chance to be a part of the national festival.

“RCC has one of the best community (college) theater programs,” Bethany Baderdeen, a student in the musical. “The fact that we are competing against grad students at the festival shows a lot that we can be at their level just as much as anybody else.”

Baderdeen said many of the students at RCC go on to do bigger and better opportunities and some of them have went on to perform on Broadway.

“The students here just learn so much,” she said.

While the festival is widespread through the region it represents, the RCC theater department was thrilled once it learned the news it was going to be invited to the big stage.

“I had a feeling (we were going) because we had gone (before),” said Rachael Johnson, an RCC theater student. “I had a strong feeling we would go and I am really excited.”

Johnson said “Spring Awakening” is one of her favorite musicals to perform.

“(“Spring Awakening”) is really a loved musical and everyone is going to love it,” she said.

Sarah Garcia, another RCC theater student, said the musical brings out the best out of every student and that is why she believes RCC was invited the festival.

“This production embodies everything about each of us individually and it wasn’t even acting all the time,” she said. “It was just us being us in a different time period; it was just really reliable and true.”

Marilu Bustamante, another student cast in the musical, said the musical was well planned and the story of the musical brought a lot of attention.

“The context of the show is very universal and the choice of the show because it so controversial that it creates drama,” she said. “People love it!”

“Everything about the show: the set, the lighting and direction was really good because it was different and original,” she said.

Although they will be performing at a national festival, the RCC theater program is prepared to face the larger audience once it hits the stage.

“It is so nerve-racking because normally when we go out to perform it is front of our friends and family, but now we are performing in front all theater majors, the people who want to do what we want to do,” Bustamante said. “(They are) our competition.”

“Once you are up on stage it is the best feeling ever,” she said.

Johnson said they had a standing ovation at one of their performances during a previous national festival.

“Then we have fans after we do the show,” she said.

Bustamante will be performing at the national festival for a fourth time and she said it might be her last time since she will be transferring afterward.

“I think it is going to be really sad but I want to go out with a bang,” she said. “I am excited.”

As she is excited to go to the festival again, Bustamante said her advice for first time RCC students is to give your best.

“You just have to give it your all,” she said.