Rockford alumnus to perform at Kennedy Center festival

Rockford native, Rachel Smith, along with her scene partner, Alexandra Newcomb-Weiland of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, made it to the semi-finals.
Rockford native, Rachel Smith, along with her scene partner, Alexandra Newcomb-Weiland of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, made it to the semi-finals.

Two University of South Dakota theatre students will compete on a national stage April 21 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Joe Van Buskirk of Rockford, Minnesota, and Christa Gesicki of Broomfield, Colorado, will compete with seven other regionally-selected performers in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Audition at the Kennedy Center. Irene Ryan is best remembered as Granny Clampett in “The Beverly Hillbillies” television series.
Van Buskirk and Gesicki, as well as their professor Tim Pyles, will spend an all-expenses paid week in Washington working with nationally-recognized theatre professionals and competing for a national scholarship along with opportunities to attend acting workshops and festivals, and to seek positions with acting companies.
Van Buskirk and Gesicki earned their spot in Washington after placing first out of over 300 teams at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival, Region Five finals in Des Moines, IA in late January.