He’s gone from the back of the stage to the front. The years of hard work are paying off for Kirkwood Community College Theatre alum Tony Stratton. He just won the prestigious Irene Ryan Scholarship at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region V competition in January.
Stratton graduated from Kirkwood in 2010 and transferred to St. Ambrose University to continue studying theatre.
While at Kirkwood, Stratton participated in musical theatre in the chorus and as a dancer. He wasn’t cast in leading roles but played significant supporting roles at Kirkwood. Director of Theatre Rick Anderson said he knew Stratton would find success.
“Tony was a great student and he did really well in his roles here,” said Anderson. “We see a lot of students like Tony that come to us, not quite sure what direction they want to go, but after spending time with us find a successful path, and Tony’s just proved that his talent could lead him to some great success in the future.”
The KCACTF Midwest region competition pitted 326 actors from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri and Iowa. Stratton was named one of two winners of the Irene Ryan Scholarship, earning $500. Both winners will travel to the Kennedy Center in April to compete against the 14 other winners from around the country. The top two at the national competition win $2,500 scholarships to continue their theatre education at a college or with professional training.
Former Kirkwood students have made it to the semi-finals of the competition. Tony moved on to the finals of the Midwest competition, and is the first Kirkwood alum to win the competition. Anderson said he hopes to see a trend started.
“We’ve had a lot of talent cut their teeth here on the Ballantyne Auditorium stage,” added Anderson. “Our whole goal in our department is to prepare students to transfer. We start talking about it their first semester with us, and we’ve had a lot of students do really well after transferring. Some four-year institutions are all over our students, trying to get them to transfer to their programs.” Another former Kirkwood student, Cody Johnson, who’s currently studying at St. Ambrose, made it to the semi-finals of this year’s KCACTF competition. Kirkwood Costume Designer Annee Noah received a Meritorious Award for Costume Design for her work on “Endgame,” a play Kirkwood students performed last February.