URI student Andrew Burnap wins regional acting competition

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KINGSTON, R.I. —February 3, 2012—Andrew Burnap of South Kingstown was 8 years old when he stepped into his first role. “I was a suffering child in a mystical tale of good versus evil in Westerly’s annual A Celebration of Twelfth Night production. I loved it.”

His acting continues to enthrall audiences today. The University of Rhode Island theater major’s talent wowed the judges at the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held last month in Fitchburg, Mass. The judges selected him as the winner of the prestigious Irene Ryan Competition, from a field of 250 acting nominees from 55 New England schools. Burnap will now compete at the national festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. in April. (NOTE: Andrew is cast as Don Lockwood (the Gene Kelly lead) in URI Theatre’s production of Singin’ In the Rain, which was slated to run two weeks in April. The department is supporting Andrew’s opportunity to compete nationally by performing the play for one week only, April 25 to 29 at 7:30 p.m. April 28 and 29 will have an additional show at 2 p.m.

“I agree with the judges who selected Andrew from a field of 240 actors,” said Paula McGlasson, chair of URI’s Theatre Department. “Andrew is an actor who likes any great role. From his work in The Seagull to Rocky Horror Show to Tartuffe to Singin’ in the Rain, his talent and drive allow him to play all kinds of characters. I’ve been at URI since 1985. Andrew is unique, his combination of musical and dramatic talent, appearance, personality, intellect, sense of humor and drive for success make him memorable.”

Burnap who commutes to campus from his family home in Matunuck came into acting through his love of music. He sang in the Chorus of Westerly under the tutelage of URI Music Professor George Kent, who founded the chorus. He plays the trumpet, piano, guitar, and sings. He also dances, can speak with British and Southern accents and juggles.

He plays dramatic and musical roles with equal ease. “They are completely different art forms,” he says. “However, I think the most alike are Shakespeare and Sondheim. In both, when feeling a complex emotion, you burst into something…different. In Shakespeare, it’s verse and poetry. In Sondheim, it’s verse and melody,” says the young actor.

So far, his favorite role was Frank-N-Furter in URI’s production of Rocky Horror Show. One role he hasn’t played, but would love is the role of Prince Hal in Henry IV.

As a theater student, the 20-year-old junior’s time is filled with rehearsals, plays, and exams. Yet his grades have not suffered. He maintained a 3.7 grade point average (out of 4.0). He hopes to raise it higher. “Hard work, it is the only way to really get you what you want,” he says.

Burnap was one of 11 student nominees from the URI Theatre Department selected to compete in the Regional festival’s Irene Ryan Competition. Besides Burnap, three other students progressed to the final competition: Joshua Andrews of Coventry, Julia Bailey of Plaiston, N.H. and Olivia Khoshatefeh of Boston, Mass.

Again this year, the URI Theatre entered a student-directed play, Pillowman, in the competition in addition to the four main stage productions. The director and student designers were eligible for nominations in the areas of directing, stage management and design/tech. The student director, Michael Commendatore from Glocester, R.I. received top recognition from the Stage Directors and Choreographers Fellowship Program.

The Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival goals are to identify and promote quality in college-level theater production. Selected students are invited to participate in theater festival programs involving scholarships, internships, grants and awards for actors, playwrights, designers, stage managers and critics at the regional and national levels.