December 21, 2023

Students, faculty, staff and alumni from UCF have been recognized by Matthew J. Palm in the Orlando Sentinel’s Orlando Theater Best of 2023. [Note: subscription may be required to view links. Support local journalism!]

Sound Design: Staff sound designer Casey Deiter was recognized for sound design in Theatre UCF’s production of The Prom. Alumnus Anthony Narciso was recognized for his work on The Little Mermaid at Theatre at St. Luke’s.

Lighting Design: Student Lance LaBonte received a mention for his lighting design of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Theater West End. Alumnus George Jackson was honored for his work on Million Dollar Quartet at Orlando Shakes. A big congratulations to alumnus Alyx Jacobs, which received a Critic’s Pick for his lighting design in St. Luke’s production of The Little Mermaid!

Scenic Design: Student Syd Deines was recognized for her design of Theatre UCF’s Bright Star. Associate professor Vandy Wood and student Sonya Smith-Tembe were recognized for their design of Theatre UFC’s Chicken & Biscuits.  Former faculty member and director of UCF’s upcoming production of Peter and the Starcatcher David Lee was honored for his design of Kangagirl Productions’ Middletown. Associate professor Bert Scott was recognized for his design of The Comedy of Errors at Orlando Shakes. Alumnus Blake Aburn was one of three designers who received a “Critic’s Pick” for their work on the Renaissance Theatre’s production of The Cocaine Play. 

Special Recognition: In a category that defied definition, Associate Professor Vandy Wood received special recognition for her work in Orlando Family Stage’s production of Luchadora. 

Music Direction: Theatre UCF faculty members Terry Thomas and Richard Crawley were recognized for their musical direction of Theatre UCF’s production of Bright Star. 

Choreography: The choreography in Theatre UCF’s production of The Prom’s received the opt honor of “Critic’s Pick” for Kyli Rae. 

Director of a Musical: Assistant Professor John Gardiner was lauded for his direction of Theatre UCF’s production of The Prom and alumnus Joshian Morales was praised for his direction of Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Orlando Shakes. Alumnus Shonn McCloud received a “Critic’s Pick” for his direction of Next to Normal at New Generation Theatrical.

Leading Actor in a Musical: Theatre student Amy Lacey was recognized for her portrayal of Alice in Theatre UCF’s Bright Star. Alumna Mandi Jo John was honored for her performance in New Generation Theatrical’s production of Next to Normal. Desiree Montes, who attended UCF, was recognized for her role in Theater West End’s Sweeney Todd.

Featured Performer in a Musical: Musical theatre student Jameson Stobbe was recognized for his acting in Theatre UCF’s production of Bright Star.

Ensemble: The ensembles of two Theatre UCF shows were recognized: Bright Star and The Prom.

Director, Comedy: Jim Helsinger, faculty administrator and artistic director of Orlando Shakes in Partnership with UCF, received a nod for his direction of The Comedy of Errors.

Leading Actor, Comedy:  Alumnus Jared-Austin Roys received a “Critic’s Pick” for his role in New Generation Theatrical’s production of Significant Other.

Featured Actor, Comedy: Student Dominique Marshall was honored for her role in Chicken & Biscuits at Theatre UCF.

Director, Drama: Alumna Felichia Chivaughn was recognized for her direction of Boulevard of Bold Dreams at Orlando Shakes. Kenny Howard, an alumnus of the English department, was recognized for his direction and casting in The Sound Inside at Florida Theatrical Association.

Leading Actor, Drama: Alumna Indigo Leigh was noted for her performance of Blanche in Jeremy Seghers’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Alumnus Michael Marinaccio was recognized with a “Critic’s Pick” for his performance in Kangagirl Productions’ Middletown. 

Featured Actor, Drama: Alumnus Jullien Aponte was recognized for his performance in The Cocaine Play at Renaissance Theatre.

Best Production: Theatre UCF’s production of Bright Star was recognized as a “Best Production” of the year, along with 14 other shows that included work and participation by countless UCF faculty, students and alumni. Congratulations to all!