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U of I Students Earn National Awards for Theatre Work

March 12, 2019

MOSCOW, Idaho – March 11, 2019 — Two University of Idaho theatre students and a theatre team took top awards at the regional competition of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.

Sophomore Andrew Yoder of Boise won the National Award for Excellence in Sound Design for his work in U of I’s performance of “A Kind of Alaska.” Senior Jessica Shehan of Coeur d’Alene won the National Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Directing Fellowships Award for her direction of a scene from “The Baltimore Waltz.”

In addition, a U of I student improv club, Awkward Silence, took home a second-place award. Members performing were Joseph Winder of Lafayette, California, Katharine Sonas of Castro Valley, California, Valerie Denton of Meridian, Andre Szarmach of Concord, California, Emma Pace of Salt Lake City, Utah, Aidan Leonard of Lewiston, Katy Sokol of Yakima, Washington, and Ricky Kimball of Moscow.

The festival awards, presented at the group’s Region 7 conference, are part of a national theatre program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities across the country that has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theatre in the United States. U of I competes in Region 7, which includes Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Alaska, Northern Nevada and Northern California.

In addition to the awards, U of I also took first place in the festival’s Tech Olympics with a team composed of Jared Sorensen of Portland, Oregon, Mason Chadd of Meridian, Valerie Denton of Meridian and Stephanie Lutz of Oakley, California. That competition evaluates skills used in theater design and technology including lighting, sound, knots, wardrobe and scenery/carpentry.

Other U of I students who won regional awards include:

  • Darrell Wagner of Casper, Wyoming: George R. Caldwell Graduate Scholarly Paper Award
  • Stephen John of Fullerton, California: Prize for Innovative Studies (presented by the festival and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education)
  • Whitney Holland of Richland, Washington: The Classical Acting Award
  • Bryce Gowey of Mountain Home: The VASTA Vocal Excellence Award
  • Hannah Verdi of Hayden: Second place Musical Theater Scholarship Audition Award
  • Stephanie Lutz of Oakley, California: Lighting Award.
  • Jared Sorenson of Portland, Oregon: Honorable Mention Award for Scene Design for his work in U of I’s production of “True West”

More information on U of I Theatre Arts is available at

Media Contact

Kelly O’Neill
Media Relations, Department of Theatre Arts

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 12,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky Conference. Learn more at