Bates senior wins theater festival regional competition

Stephen Lattanzi '08 plays the role of Milo in Five Cups of Coffee.

Stephen Lattanzi, a Bates College senior from Winchester, Mass., is one of two winners of a regional competition in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, held Jan. 29- Feb. 3 at Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, Mass.

Lattanzi will compete nationally in Washington, D.C., in April. The other Region I winner was Michael Zuccola of Northern Essex Community College, in Massachusetts.

“I’m very excited,” Lattanzi says of his win. “It’s an absolutely phenomenal opportunity.”

Along with Lattanzi, two other Bates seniors competed in Fitchburg. Sam Leichter of Wallingford, Pa., took part in the acting trials and Eric Auner of Medford, Mass., competed in sound design.

Two noncompeting scene partners also went. Sophomore Caroline Servat of San Francisco supported Lattanzi, and senior Maggie McCally of Westport, Conn., worked with Leichter.

One of eight across the nation, the Region I competition included schools from all over New England. “There were something like 54 colleges represented,” Lattanzi says. “A huge sampling of really good talent. It was fantastic to see other people’s stuff.”

Leichter adds that Bates’ was one of the smaller theater programs there. “Only five people went from Bates. Boston University, it seemed like, sent their entire school.”

“But we stood out exponentially in terms of how we’d been trained and what Bates had prepared us for,” Lattanzi says.

Both actors have taken part in several Bates productions, including Five Cups of Coffee, The Three Sisters and The Taming of the Shrew. Lattanzi is also the co-founder of the Winchester Cooperative Theatre’s Summer Acting Conservatory, directing an adaptation for high school students of Romeo and Juliet last summer.

For the three rounds of the festival’s regional competition, Lattanzi and Leichter each had to prepare two scenes and a monologue. Lattanzi presented scenes from Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things and William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew, and a monologue from Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth.

Leichter presented scenes from The Heidi Chronicles, by Wendy Wasserstein, and Dying City, by Christopher Shinn, and a monologue from Shakespeare’s King John.

This was the first time in 20 years that Bates has entered the Kennedy Center competition. (Schools enter a specific production in order to participate, although competing students may present material from any play. Bates’ entry was Gillette Elvgren’s play Five Cups of Coffee, produced last fall and directed by Professor of Theater Paul Kuritz.)

Kati Vecsey of the Bates theater faculty calls the competition a great opportunity for aspiring career actors. “Stepping outside of Bates provides a possibility to measure yourself up to other people in this business who are your peers age-wise,” she says. “To compete with people who are going into this profession, it’s really important to see that you are good.”

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a longstanding program involving nearly 20,000 college and university students nationwide. Winners of the regional festivals and showcases will present their work at the national festival at the Kennedy Center April 14-20.

Lattanzi credits the Bates theater department for much of his success. “To be there and to prove ourselves, win or not, among these other schools, speaks volumes about the department,” he says.blank image

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