Coventry resident to graduate from URI May 18 as top theater student

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KINGSTON, R.I. – May 14, 2008 – Coventry resident Kate Ferdinandi had no idea that the play she performed in as a six-year-old would lead to a career in the theater. As she prepares to graduate from the University of Rhode Island on May 18, she is equally surprised that she will be the recipient of the President’s Award for Student Excellence as the top theater student on campus.

“The award was completely unexpected,” Ferdinandi said with a smile. “When I was called into the office, I was wondering what I had done wrong. As soon as I heard about the honor I started to cry. I’m so grateful.”

Though unexpected, Ferdinandi is not undeserving of the award. She has virtually lived in the URI Fine Arts Center for the last four years, performing in musicals, dramas and comedies while also serving in numerous behind-the-scenes capacities.

“I was itching to get right into it my freshman year, so I joined the running crew of the musical Beauty and the Beast,” she said. “It was a phenomenal experience. I had seen it on Broadway, and my mom said our production was even better.”

Ever since then, Ferdinandi has had an acting role or a production role in almost every URI play. Last year she performed in the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The year before, she performed in the musical Urinetown while also serving as assistant stage manager for both Romeo and Juliet and Angels in America. Her final project before graduation was as the production stage manager for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which closed out the 2007-2008 season.

“I like performing, it’s lots of fun, and it’s where my heart started in theater, but stage managing is something that I’ve been more into recently, and it’s definitely easier to get a job doing it,” said Ferdinandi, who represented the URI Department of Theater at the Kennedy Center College Theater Festival in Fitchburg, Mass., in January.

The URI student got the acting bug when she was six and was recruited by her mother’s cousin for a role as a street urchin in a children’s community theater project. That eventually led to roles in Frankenstein and Romeo and Juliet at Coventry High School and a backstage role on The Rose of Treason, which was performed at the New England Drama Festival.

With URI graduation approaching, Ferdinandi is examining the New England theater scene with an eye toward a full-time production job, though she is also considering enrolling in graduate school.

“There are more theater jobs in New York, but that’s not really my scene,” she said. “I really like the theater right here in Rhode Island, though it’s not an easy place to find a job. Rhode Island theater is very organic; it’s true to where they started from and what they’re about. I’m considering Boston, too, because there’s a lot going on there as well.”

While Ferdinandi didn’t have much time for non-theatrical extracurricular activities during her college career, she doesn’t feel like she missed out on anything.

“Between working on shows, doing my homework and maintaining a decent grade point average, there wasn’t a lot of time for other things,” she said. “Theater was my major, my full-time job, my part-time job, my extracurriculars, my everything. It’s my life. It’s what I’m doing now, and it’s what I want to keep doing.”

Ferdinandi will begin her life after URI with her first professional theater job as stage manager at the Brown University/Trinity Rep Playwright Festival this summer.