By Joe Bachman
Thespians from Wis. Rapids took home top honors in last week’s Wisconsin AACTFest Festival.
Out of seven theatres from across the state, only two would advance to Region III AACTFest in Champaign, Ill. in April — Wisconsin Rapids Community Theatre, (WRCT) and Central Wisconsin Area Community Theatre (cwACT); both of which are represented by Wisconsin Rapids natives.
“It’s exciting to move on to the regional competition and we all feel very wonderful about that,” said Cathy Meils, who directed The Gin Game for WRCT. “It’s an achievement that we can share as a company.”
Not only did WRCT advance to regionals, but local Bev Ross took home Excellence in Acting by an Actress honors, which according to Meils was the most touching moment of the weekend.
“Bev brought the play to us and asked us to do it, and she’s been working on it for a year and half,” said Meils. “She’s such a newcomer, and started acting after she retired — this is the first time she’s had a major role of this size. It’s been really wonderful to watch her grow throughout this process.”
The Gin Game, performed by Bev Ross and Greg Konz-Krzyminski, will get to take their show on the road during Arti Gras week in March, as they will perform for Almond-Bancroft High School.
Not to be outdone, Stevens Point based cwACT also advanced to regionals with The Diary of Adam and Eve, performed by Rapids natives Amber Fait and Joshua Panter, and directed by Scott Price and Tana De Lonay. To top even that off, Panter took home honors for Excellence in Acting by an Actor.
“I am highly excited about our move to regionals,” said Panter. “We’ve been given some amazing notes by the judges that we are hoping to integrate into our show. It’s really quite fantastic to see our program evolve as we move forward.”
“I feel like it’s a dream and I can’t wake up,” said Fait. “I never thought I would be talented enough to be on stage with an amazing actor like Joshua, let alone us both being talented enough to out-perform five other theater organizations in our own state. I am honored to have even been given the opportunity to perform along side of such brilliant talent.”
With great success between two theatres, separated by only 19 miles, it’s the rich tradition of community theatre in the area that continues to push actors to performance highs.
“Our theatre [WRCT] just celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, and that’s been 40 years of training, and building a family,” said Meils. “We really see a lot in somebody like Greg [Konz-Krzyminski], who left the region, but comes back here because it’s his home theatre.”
“There’s talent, and there’s work ethic,” said WRCT Executive Director Ellen Roeseler. “You can’t do something like this without it — what they accomplished took really hard work.”
“We have so much talent between the two organizations and such a love for performing that it makes all the work and dedication we put into each show absolutely worth it,” said Fait. “I think it speaks highly for the caliber of shows we are giving to our local towns.”
Region III AACTFest will be held April 27-30 and will feature productions from five different states. They will have the chance to advance to nationals, which will be held in June. Even with the two theatres in competition with each other, there is a great amount of respect that will carry on before and after the shows.
“We are so excited and amazed to wish our neighbors every success in the coming contest,” said Panter. “They are two of the most intense and fantastic actors, and it’ll be an honor to share a stage with them both. Must be something in the water!”
There has been a GoFundMe account created for travel expenses for cwACT. You can help support their cause by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/adam-eve-act